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Sneak peek of ‘America’s Darling’ project offered at ‘Ding’ Days

By Staff | Sep 28, 2011

Calling it the most important project he’s worked on in the past 19 years, Marvo Entertainment Group Executive Producer Samuel Koltinsky is preparing to offer islanders a sneak preview of his latest national television project, “America’s Darling.”

“Right now, perhaps more than any other time in this country, we need a great story,” Koltinsky said by telephone Wednesday morning. “And Jay Darling’s story is a great one.”

Koltinsky met with National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schweiger in Reston, Va. to discuss the project. In honor of Darling’s role as NWF’s first president, the organization is cooperating with Marvo to help promote Darling’s legacy while connecting with younger people.

“As founder of National Wildlife Federation, ‘Ding’ Darling inspires our work today for the nature of tomorrow,” said Schweiger.

In addition, Koltinsky traveled to both Pensacola, Fla. – to attend the Gulf Coast REAP (Regional Equity to Achieve Prosperity) Conference – and Shepherdstown, W.V. to visit the U S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center (NCTC). He discussed “America’s Darling” with NCTC staff, including U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Historian Mark Madison.

“J. N. ‘Ding’ Darling helped create the modern National Wildlife Refuge System, drew the first Duck Stamp, and founded the National Wildlife Federation in the midst of the Great Depression and Dust Bowls,” Madison said. “He was a whirlwind of activity and truly a Renaissance man of the American Conservation Movement.”

Meanwhile, LuAnne Cervelli, who is working on the project in research and development, traveled to Sanibel and Captiva in August to survey locations, conduct research and meet with partnering organizations. During her stay, she met with Paul Tritaik, manager of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, to tour the facility and learn about its programs.

Cervelli also spoke with Kristie Anders, Education Director of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, who accompanied her on a boat tour to view Darling’s Captiva home, the “Fish House,” built on stilts over the water just off the island.

According to Koltinsky, Marvo had recently discovered early footage capturing the beauty of the home and the Captiva shoreline.

Cervelli also visited ‘Tween Waters Inn, where she met the inn’s President and CEO Tony Lapi, toured the cottage and studio where Darling lived and worked during the winter, and viewed original Darling artwork on display in the inn’s dining room.

“What a great opportunity to showcase the wonderful accomplishments made by this man to both the environment and the local area,” said Lapi. “His talents and foresight have made an indelible impression on our Inn at ‘Tween Waters and our local islands.”

A number of other islanders have shown a tremendous interest in Koltinsky’s 60-minute documentary, which he hopes to have completed within the next 12 months.

“SCCF is proud to be part of a project to inspirit Americans through portrayal of the life of Jay Darling, particularly in his leadership as a conservationist,” said Erick Lindblad, SCCF’s Executive Director.

Jim Scott, President of the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, added, “Sam suggested that ‘Ding’ Darling’s personal philosophy has relevance today, even 50 years after his passing, and that a documentary about his achievements would have widespread interest.”

Koltinsky also spent time in the NCTC Archives, where – assisted by Museum Curator Jeanne Harold – he made some exciting discoveries. The collection, which includes many Darling-related artifacts, clippings and photographs, was donated to NCTC by Darling’s grandson, Christopher “Kip” Koss.

“After working with ‘Kip’ Koss, who is the executive advisor of this project, I am dedicated to this to the point that I’m not going to leave the editing room until it’s perfect,” said Koltinsky, who has produced numerous documentaries in Europe and the United States with PBS, the History Channel and the Documentary Channel.

A sneak preview of “Kip” Koss’s “America’s Darling” interview will be shown on Sunday, Oct. 16 at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge during “Ding” Darling Days’ Family Fun Day. A short clip of the documentary will be screened in the Education Center at 1 p.m. Admission to the event is free.

“It has been just amazing, retracing Darling’s path from Iowa… to Washington… to Sanibel and Captiva,” added Koltinsky, who is excited – and challenged – by the depth and scope of this project. “We are going to tell the story not just about the conservationist, but the man himself. And what I’m finding out is that when you open up one door, you find 10 more doors behind it.”

For additional information about “America’s Darling,” visit www.marvoentertainmentgroup.com.