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Refuge to celebrate International Women’s Day

By REFUGE / DDWS - | Feb 24, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED Virtual participants can view a free film on March 8.

A film about Rachel Carson and the announcement of a new endowed conservation fund for girls will virtually celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 for the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The global observance, which began in 1911, applauds the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all over the world. The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge is orchestrating the day’s virtual events.

As part of its ninth annual “Ding” Darling Film Series, the DDWS will air “A Sense of Wonder,” a 54-minute documentary chronicling Carson, an environmental pioneer and biologist, in the final year of her life. It portrays her as she looks back over her dealings with the government, media and chemical industry following the release of her then-controversial watershed book, “Silent Spring,” in 1962.

Sponsored by Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts, the film is available for viewing for free anytime on March 8, with a Zoom virtual discussion scheduled for 5 p.m. Pre-registration for both is required; visit dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/lecture-and-film-series for links. Those who register for the film will receive an email a day before the showing begins containing the streaming link and password along with a link to the Zoom discussion.

In conjunction with International Women’s Day, the DDWS also announces the establishment of a permanent endowed fund honoring the life of Dr. Louise Merrimon Perry, the first woman to donate land to the refuge, thereby protecting the coastal Perry Tract. Known familiarly as the LMP Fund for Girls, the Dr. Louise Merrimon Perry Conservation Fund for Girls honors the highly respected ophthalmologist and malacologist who retired to Sanibel.

Perry valued and appreciated the island’s wildlife and understood the importance of protecting its habitat from future development. Upon her passing in 1962, she donated her four-plus acre beachfront property to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to maintain as a safe haven for wildlife. The Perry Tract lies adjacent to Gulfside City Park, where the DDWS and refuge installed a kiosk for visitors to learn more about Perry, the shells and wildlife they may find, and the importance of helping to protect and preserve the land.

PHOTO PROVIDED Dr. Louise Perry retired to Sanibel, where she provided free eye exams for children.

Perry’s family is establishing the endowed conservation fund to support women in the field of conservation and those — who as a teacher, program leader or in other such roles — are impacting the lives of girls by inspiring future conservation stewards.

“What an appropriate day to celebrate two outstanding women and their work saving wildlife,” DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller said. “Throughout history, women have made and continue to make a significant impact in conservation, but their contributions often go unrecognized. The LMP Fund for Girls will allow the refuge and DDWS to recognize and support women making those small and large differences in conservation. It is an honor to recognize Dr. Perry in this way.”

To financially support the fund, visit dingdarlingsociety.org or call Miller at 239-292-0566.

For more information, visit dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/lecture-and-film-series.