DDWS board welcomes new members
At a recent teleconference meeting, the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge Board of Directors welcomed two Sanibel residents as new members: William “Bill” H. Harkey and Robin E. Kirk.
Harkey, a fifth-generation California “farm boy,” grew up on a peach and prune ranch in northern California. After graduating from Oregon State University in 1971, he began a 30-year career in the U.S. Army, finishing as the director of public affairs at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, before he retired.
With his wife, Laurie, Harkey began visiting Sanibel in 2002, and by 2019 they became permanent residents. He participates actively in the Rotary Club of Sanibel-Captiva and is an avid golfer.
“Laurie and I have always been fans of the outdoors and wildlife,” Harkey said, adding that they have witnessed the great impact the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge has had on wildlife populations since they first started visiting.
“The refuge’s mission of public education and environmental and wildlife protection is vitally important, but with the cutbacks in federal staffing and resource support, the role of the society is even more crucial,” he said. “I consider my serving on the society board an opportunity to give back and to help continue the vital work it does. It’s a great calling, and I welcome it.”
Kirk grew up in the Ozark foothills of Arkansas with a love for nature and education, which led to an elementary education degree from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. Her deep passion for nature and getting children to read resulted in volunteering for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, where she worked with school groups. Later, Kirk served as a seasonal park ranger and self-published children’s nature books that would encourage children to read and get outside.
“Upon visiting Sanibel in 2005, I fell in love with the conservation ethic and wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “‘Ding’ Darling provides the very opportunity to continue to learn about the natural world from the ground up to the top of the tallest mangrove trees. Now, as a full-time Sanibel resident, I love being a part of this organization and supporting ‘Ding’ in the many ways available, including the education of young explorers.”