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‘Ding’ artist ‘in residence’ leads art outreach with PACE

By Staff | Jun 26, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Youth from Lee County's PACE Center for Girls work on a nature mural as part of their outreach activities at the “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel.

As part of his eight-week artist “in residence” program at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel, wildlife artist Ed Anderson welcomed Lee County’s PACE Center for Girls to the refuge on June 21.

The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge is sponsoring the artist program, with support from the S. Kent Rockwell Foundation, as part of the refuge’s 75th anniversary celebration.

Funding for the PACE visit also came from the Gardner families, which covered the cost of transportation, lunch, art supplies, T-shirts and other goodies for the 39 girls who attended.

Ages 11-17, the youth spent the day circulating through five stations where they could work with Anderson on an art mural project and experience the Visitor & Education Center, Indigo Trail, Wildlife Education Boardwalk and other facets.

“The girls were thrilled with their visit,” DDWS Associate Executive Director Lynnae Messina, who organized the program, said. “Despite the fact that the air-conditioner wasn’t working, the PACE program director has expressed her pleasure at the program’s success and a desire for future outreach partnerships. We look forward to that as part of the refuge’s mission to educate about conservation through art, science, and curriculum.”

The PACE Center for Girls is a gender-specific education program for at-risk young women in Fort Myers. Since 2007, it has served more than 700 students.

Earlier in June, Anderson and DDWS took his art outreach program to the Quality Life Center of Southwest Florida to also connect with at-risk students. Together with the students, the artist created a wildlife mural that will become part of the center’s new addition.

“Our refuge was created by conservation artist Jay Norwood ‘Ding’ Darling in 1945, so it’s more than fitting that we begin celebrating our 75th anniversary with interpretive art programs,” Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland said. “Darling, who created the Federal Duck Stamp program, designed the first duck stamp and the refuge system’s Blue Goose logo. He won the Pulitzer Prize twice for his popular political cartoons throughout the 1920s and ’30s.”

For more information about Anderson’s work, visit edandersonart.com.

To keep up to date on the refuge’s 75th anniversary celebration, visit ding75.org.

To support field trips to the refuge and learn of other opportunities, contact DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller at 239-472-1100 ext. 4 or director@dingdarlingsociety.org.