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Former refuge biologist returns as deputy refuge manager

By Staff | Jun 7, 2011

Joyce Palmer unpacks in her new deputy refuge manager office.

She left in March 2009 as Joyce Mazourek, refuge biologist. She returned the end of May 2011 as Joyce Palmer, deputy refuge manager, a post vacated by Patrick Martin in November 2010.

During the intervening months, Mazourek married David Palmer and took on a post as refuge manager of Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge southeast of Naples.

“It’s exciting!,” says Palmer, who has a wetland ecology background and worked from 2004 to 2007 with the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), during which time she was also stationed at “Ding.”

“It’s a promotion, actually, because of ‘Ding’ Darling’s reputation and public use,” she added. Ten Thousand Islands, in contrast to “Ding’s” extensive visitor facilities, has only one trail without facilities, “a secret among birders,” said Joyce.

During her tenure as refuge manager, a parking lot, signage, and an observation tower made the trail more user-friendly and brought seasonal visits to a peak of 100 a day.

Joyce Palmer

Palmer maintained her home in Fort Myers during the transitions, “So I’ve just changed the direction of my commute,” she said with her ready smile.

Returning to “Ding” means she can hone her management aspirations without having to move.

“Plus, I just wanted to come back!” she said.

Martin now serves as refuge manager for Marais des Cygnes NWR near Pleasanton, Kansas.

The J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR is the second most visited wildlife refuge in the country with more than 800,000 visitors from around the world. With more than 6,000 acres, it is most known for its extensive mangrove ecosystem and topnotch birding.

For more information about the refuge or the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge, call 239-472-1100 or visit www.dingdarlingsociety.org.