Refuge welcomes resident volunteers
Each season, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge welcomes resident volunteers to help with staffing shortages in exchange for a spot to park their RV and hook up to utilities.
This season, it welcomes two returning couples – Jack and Patty Wettstein, and Carl and Sandy Greenbaum – plus four new couples. Of the new volunteers, Randy and Sandy Reed arrived on Nov. 1 to assist Conservation Educator Sara Hallas through mid-March.
“The first people we encountered were Sara and interns Izzy and Hannah,” Sandy Reed. “They immediately made us feel like we had made the right decision to come to ‘Ding.'”
As retired middle school science teachers and avid birders, the Reeds make a good fit for the education team. They have volunteered for a number of federal public lands since they retired more than three years ago. Two highlights were the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and the Balcones Canyonlands NWR in Texas hill country.
“We had visited ‘Ding’ many years ago and learned that it is a special place,” Sandy Reed said. “We consider it an honor and privilege to volunteer here, especially in the field of education. Plus, we must admit, the weather is pretty desirable here, especially as a full-time RVer.”