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Refuge welcomes visitor services intern

By Staff | Jun 19, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Kyle Patterson

Visitor services intern Kyle Patterson arrived on June 4 to help the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel with staffing shortages this summer, thanks to funding from the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge.

A Red Bank, New Jersey, native, Patterson attended Green Mountain College in Vermont the past two years and will attend Paul Smith’s College in New York State’s Adirondack Mountains in the fall to study fish and wildlife management. Through mid-August, he will assist Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland in overseeing programs and amenities for the refuge’s over one million annual visitors.

“Having been to the refuge and coming to Sanibel almost every spring for a long time now to visit my grandparents, I’ve always found Wildlife Drive during the in-season migrations and breeding seasons really spectacular,” he said. “But getting to see the off-season side of things has been rewarding in many ways as well, such as getting an almost silent morning view of a flock of spoonbills with very few other people to be seen.”

Patterson said he looks forward to working with Boy Scout and summer programs “to help spread the passion for wildlife and conservation that this refuge gave me.”

“We welcome Kyle’s energy and enthusiasm to the team,” Westland said. “We thank our friends group for making his internship possible. With our shrinking staff, due to federal budget cuts, it’s crucial for this sort of partnership to keep the refuge running.”

For more information about the 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. 232.