Refuge welcomes two new interns
In January, two visitor services interns joined the team at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel. Michaela Arndt and Bryan Marquardt will work full-time with Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland this year.
From Green Bay, Wisconsin, Arndt last interned in the field of development at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in December, where she studied wildlife ecology and environmental conservation.
“My favorite part of the island so far is the warm weather and the beautiful birds here,” she said. “I really enjoy following the volunteers on programs, I’ve learned so much already. I’m looking forward to learning more about the refuge, especially the wildlife and flora. This is my first time working at a U.S. wildlife refuge, and I’m grateful to gain this new experience at ‘Ding’ Darling.”
Hailing from Stillwater, Minnesota, Marquardt last worked at the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument near Taos, New Mexico. He graduated from North Dakota State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in zoology.
“I am thoroughly enjoying the weather, the birds, the beach, the sunny days, the food, and the diversity of wildlife found here,” Marquardt said. “I am excited to be a part of the staff at ‘Ding’ Darling for the 75th anniversary.”
The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge provides living stipends and other benefits for about a dozen interns each year. The refuge supports the interns with free housing.
“We welcome our new interns’ energy and enthusiasm,” Westland said. “We thank our friends group for making their internships possible. With our shrinking staff, due to federal budget cuts, this sort of partnership is crucial to keep the refuge running.”
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.