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‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Society announces promotion, new intern

By Staff | Dec 12, 2013


“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) announced the recent hiring of a new shared-use intern and the promotion of a former intern to staff.

As a result of a current federal hiring freeze at at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, DDWS has begun a program whereby it shares its interns with the refuge. After completing service with Americorps, Gavin McGimpsey joined the staff in November 2013 as the fourth intern who will work for both the friends group and the refuge.

One of the first shared-use interns, Jess Shelton, was recently promoted to a DDWS staff position as associate director of community outreach and development. Her duties will include assisting DDWS Executive Director Birgie Vertesch with administrative tasks and developing methods to spread the refuge’s mission of education and conservation outside refuge confines.

McGimpsey’s job description entails assisting the refuge with visitor services under the tutelage of Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland.

“I’m interested in learning more about ‘Ding’ in the next couple months, and possibly developing an interpretive program,” the new intern said. “I’m also learning quite a bit about birds.”

Gavin McGimpsey. PHOTO PROVIDED.

A native Philadelphian, McGimpsey grew up in Idaho Falls, and graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 2011 with a degree in philosophy and minor in legal studies.

McGimpsey got initiated properly into refuge-society life on a warm Veteran’s Day, when he volunteered to don the refuge’s “Teddy” Roosevelt costume for the Shell Point Retirement Community parade. Shelton, at the same time, got a taste of community outreach during the event.

“After a year as an intern, I just wasn’t yet ready to leave ‘Ding’ and all the wonderful new friends I’ve made,” said Shelton, who hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, and studied economics at Hanover College in southern Indiana.

“What I love most about working for a non-profit is how every day is different, and you get to do such a variety of different things,” she added. “I’ve already seen how the events go and been through a ‘Sanibel Season.’ This new job allows me to take all that experience and really step into more of the planning and leadership roles of those events and programs.”

“I love working with the team here at ‘Ding’ and the Society,” said McGimpsey. “The other interns have been great helping me get adjusted, and Birgie and the refuge staff are a lot of fun to work with. I’m looking forward to learning a lot from all of them. I might stay longer than I’d planned at first – it’s gorgeous here!”

“A big thanks to the ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Society for helping us out during a difficult staffing struggle,” said Westland. “I don’t know what we’d do without these bright, vivacious young faces who bring so much energy to our mission.”

As a non-profit organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop proceeds.

To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Vertesch at 292-0566 or director@dingdarlingsociety.org.