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Refuge welcomes resident volunteers

By Staff | Nov 27, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Amanda Whitney and Norm Brodeur

Each winter 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 and four new couples. Of the volunteers, Norm Brodeur and Amanda Whitney arrived on Nov. 1 to assist in the Maintenance Department for the month.

A licensed massage therapist, Whitney last worked at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort Spa. As a licensed Realtor, Brodeur worked in the Naples area selling luxury RV sites.

“This past summer we volunteered with the National Forest Service in the White Mountains of New Hampshire,” she said. “We worked at a very busy trailhead advising backpackers and day hikers. We enjoy hiking so it was a fun experience.”

The couple vacationed on Sanibel a few years ago, and loved the ability to ride bicycles everywhere they needed to go and appreciated how much residents care for and take care of the island.

“‘Ding’ is a very special refuge,” Whitney said. “I’m impressed with the interns and employees – they all care deeply for the environment and, particularly, for this refuge.”