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Tarpon Bay Explorers hosts Dr. Jerry Jackson for WGCU Fundraiser

By Staff | May 8, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED Dr. Jerry Jackson, his wife Bette and their fellow paddlers.

On May 5, Tarpon Bay Explorers hosted renowned ornithologist Dr. Jerry Jackson and 19 other wildlife enthusiasts for a combined birding trip fundraiser through Tarpon Bay.

Tarpon Bay Explorers provided kayaks in order for Jackson to lead visitors through Commodore Creek within the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel. Fundraisers like this help support WGCU programs, such as Dr. Jackson’s “With the Wild Things.” The fundraiser raised over $1,700.

Educating the public is of importance to Tarpon Bay Explorers, the refuge’s official concession. The tour not only included information about birds, but the ecosystem in which they inhabit: Mangrove Estuary. Tarpon Bay Explorers’ naturalists and Jackson stress the importance of mangrove forests and the benefits they provide for humans and wildlife alike for Florida’s coastal communities.

“Mangroves are one of the most important protectants we have,” he said.

Jackson has been birding since he was a kid throwing newspapers at dawn.

PHOTO PROVIDED Dr. Jerry Jackson and his kayakers on their way to the Commodore Creek kayak trail.

“‘Ding’ and I have similar backgrounds,” he said. “He was a syndicated cartoonist and I was a paper boy.”

Beyond his occupation as a former paperboy, Jackson has been a professor for 50 years; 30 years at Mississippi State University and another 20 at Florida Gulf Coast University.

“We were happy to provide Dr. Jackson and WGCU with the needs for their fundraiser,” Wendy Schnapp, Tarpon Bay Explorers’ general manager and part owner, said. “Education is part of Tarpon Bay Explorers’ and the Refuge’s mission. Who better to raise funds for WGCU and go birding at the same time, than Dr. Jackson.”

Visitors can learn even more about mangrove estuaries, their significance and the wildlife that inhabits them on any guided tour Tarpon Bay Explorers offers. Tours range from kayaks, pontoons, paddleboards, trams and more.

For more information, visit www.tarponbayexplorers.com or call 239-472-8900.