Refuge welcomes visitor services intern
Tucker Phillips recently joined the team at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel as a Jim & Liz Birmingham 2022 visitor services intern, working full-time with Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland through the 2021-22 season.
Phillips arrived from his hometown of Herndon, Virginia. He graduated from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where he majored in environmental science with a concentration in conservation.
“My favorite part about Sanibel is definitely the weather, and my favorite thing about the refuge is how important the work we do here is,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to meeting all the people who come to visit and helping to show them why the refuge matters, as well as getting a little more involved with the wildlife.”
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 interns with free housing. For more information about the refuge’s internship programs, contact Westland at 239-472-1100 ext. 237.
“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.”
The Birminghams, of Sanibel and Colorado, donate in support of an annual internship. They have been coming to Sanibel for many years and believe in the importance of supporting the communities where they live, especially when it comes to giving the younger generation an appreciation for conservation.
The DDWS currently stewards two named internships for the 2021-22 year and is accepting donations for three future named intern funds at $12,500 a year, which is the cost for supporting one intern including stipends, travel, tolls, Sanibel Recreation Center membership, and other expenses.
For information about supporting refuge internship programs, contact DDWS Associate Director Lynnae Messina at 239-472-1100 ext. 233.