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Interns join ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge

By Staff | Sep 27, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED Chris Gutierrez and April Boehnen

In September, two interns joined the team effort at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

April Boehnen and Chris Gutierrez will work full-time with the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge until June to support the refuge.

Boehnen, who graduated from Ohio State University in May 2017 with a major in animal sciences and minors in agricultural communications and wildlife, comes to the refuge from an animal care internship at Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary in Imlay, Nevada.

“I’m most excited about being able to combine my interests of wildlife and graphic design. This internship allows me to explore a different side of the wildlife field than I’ve experienced,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to learning the behind-the-scenes aspects to a national wildlife refuge.”

A native of Grafton, Ohio, Boehnen is enjoying the warm weather and small-town feel of Sanibel.

“The sense of community and support the refuge receives from everyone on Sanibel is amazing,” she said. “My favorite part so far is being surrounded by a small piece of paradise that I am lucky enough to help support.”

Gutierrez hails from Holbrook on Long Island, New York, and comes to “Ding” Darling from a summer internship at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.

“The island is beautiful. It’s like living on vacation,” he said. “The wildlife is awesome and we’re not even into the peak of bird season yet. Just walking to work I get to see animals that the average person may never get to see in their lifetime.”

Gutierrez graduated in May from Alfred University in New York with a degree in finance and economics.

“What I’m most excited for on the job is the opportunity to learn about the ways non-profits raise money,” he said. “It is critical to the success of the refuge and conservation as a whole. So, future fundraising events and meeting with donors is what I’m really looking forward to.”

DDWS provides living stipends and other benefits for about a dozen refuge and DDWS interns each year. The refuge supports interns with free housing.

“Our interns bring youthful energy, enthusiasm, and creativity to the refuge team,” DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller said. “The internship program is just one example of how the non-profit and refuge partnership works for the better good of conservation and wildlife.”

To learn about supporting the refuge intern program or DDWS, visit dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Miller at 239-472-1100 ext. 4 or director@dingdarlingsociety.org.