Dear Editor,

There are over 200 Friends organizations throughout the US Fish and Wildlife Refuge system. Members and volunteers provide over 28 percent of the work hours performed on Refuges. Friends groups make possible the continued existence of many of the 566 Refuges throughout the country, including St. Vincent NWR.

 

The Friends of St. Vincent NWR has grown over the last ten plus years, and the need for people to support the Refuge has increased as we work to expand the reach of the Refuge to as many people as possible. We are grateful for all the interest and monetary contributions that all of you have made. The Friends now need your skills as well.

 

As we grow, we need you to step forward and volunteer so that the Friends can show through our commitment to St. Vincent NWR that its continued viability is important and critical to all of us.

 

What do we need? How can you contribute?

 

Many of our projects need outside funding. Currently our 2019 ‘Protect the Point’ projecthas made possible the retention of a Summer intern. The intern works on visitor education and data collection at the western point of the island where rare and endangered migratory birds rest and nest. For the 2020 summer season, there is a grant program that the Friends can apply to receive funding for this valuable effort. We very much need a grant writer to help us apply. Even if you do not live in the Panhandle, YOU can volunteer to complete a grant application for the Friends. For more information and to volunteerstvincentislandfriends@gmail.com (ATTN: Sue in the header)

 

One of our on-going projects is staffing and facilitating the guided wagon tours and walking tours of the Refuge from October through the first week in May. These tours are one of the primary ways the Friends can assist the Refuge by providing evidence of visitor numbers and providing environmental education to visitors and residents. In 2018, Hurricane Michael severely damaged the Refuge, necessitating a change of direction, including instituting walking tours. These have proved wildly popular and now have exceeded the number of volunteers who lead the tours. If you would like a chance to be on the island and share your love of the island with others, we need both walking and wagon tour guides. Contact us at stvincentislandfriends@gmail.com (ATTN: Carol Brown in the header) to get more information and volunteer. Fun mandatory. No experience necessary, we provide training and support.

Carol Brown

Board member of the Friends of St. Vincent Island