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‘Ding’ Days 2011 spices up schedule with new events

By Staff | Aug 23, 2011

A special introduction to the refuge’s new iNature Trail along Wildlife Drive highlights Monday’s new Technology in the Outdoors Day.

Technology in the Outdoors Day, mascot character meet-and-greets, a film festival, Celebrate Calusa Day, and author lectures will add new excitement this year to “Ding” Darling Days at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge the week of Oct. 16-22, 2011.

The 22nd annual event kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 16 with Family Fun Day, where three refuge “characters” – the Blue Goose, Teddy Roosevelt and Bagzilla – will get the party started and greet families for photo opportunities beginning at 11 a.m.

They will be circulating throughout the day, while families enjoy free live animal presentations, nature crafts, a butterfly house and touch tank, free hot dogs, free refuge tram tours and more.

The next day, Monday, Oct. 17 (a free day for public school children), the refuge has declared as Technology in the Outdoors Day with free demonstrations of the new iNature Trail along Wildlife Drive, Earth-caching, and eBird Trail Tracking technology, plus a day-long showing of short films about seven of the nation’s top refuges.

The new Celebrate Calusa Day, Wednesday, Oct. 19, features a Calusa Quest presentation by a team from “Ding” Darling, the Mound House on Fort Myers Beach, and Randell Research Center on Pine Island. A tour of the refuge’s newly renovated Calusa Shell Mound Trail, guided by Calusa experts Ann and Bill Wollschlager, will follow the presentation.

“Ding” Days will also host two author lectures, new this year. Talking about his soon-to-be-released book on the history of the refuge, island historian Charles LeBuff will be on hand for a lecture and book-signing on Thursday, Oct. 20.

The book Animal Investigators: How the World’s First Wildlife Forensics Lab is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species takes readers into the world of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, CSI-style. Its author, Dr. Laurel Neme, will appear on Tuesday, Oct. 18 for a lecture and book-signing.

To finish off the “Ding” Days week, a Duck Stamp Artists presentation once again headlines Saturday’s Conservation Art Day, which also includes a photography tram tour and nature art activities with free nature journals and art supplies.

“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge sponsors “Ding” Darling Days with support from Tarpon Bay Explorers, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and other private and business partners.

For a full “Ding” Darling Days schedule, visit www.dingdarlingdays.com or call 472-1100.