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Refuge welcomes new education intern

By Staff | Feb 20, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Justin Gole looks forward to assisting with this year’s Florida Junior Duck Stamp Contest, which takes place at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel.

Education intern Justin Gole recently arrived to help the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel with staffing shortages this season, thanks to funding from the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge.

Gole graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2015 with a degree in accounting. He worked briefly at “Ding” Darling last December as a visitor survey intern with American Conservation Experience. Between March 2018 and January 2019, the program had him working at 15 different wildlife refuges.

“And I’m lucky enough to come back and work at my favorite refuge,” he said. “It’s hard to pick just one thing I love about Sanibel and the refuge. I would narrow it down to the sunlight, the seashells, and the birding.

Gole will assist Conservation Educator Sara Hallas through the end of May. In June he heads out for an environmental education position with the Peace Corps in Guyana.

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

“Our interns bring youthful energy, enthusiasm, and creativity to the refuge team,” Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland said. “At the same time, the program gives students and recent graduates an opportunity to learn hands-on about the environment and refuge operations.”

For more information about internships, contact Westland at 239-472-1100 ext. 237. To learn about supporting the program, contact DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller at 239-472-1100 ext. 4.