In concert with the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and in keeping with CDC protocols, the refuge staff has scaled back activities for this year’s “Ding” Darling Day — scheduled for December 1st — to present a relaxed engaging day outdoors interacting with nature.
Wildlife Drive will be open for free from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Environmental exhibitors and plein-air artists will be spread along the Visitor & Education Center parking lot, Indigo Trail and Wildlife Drive.
A Ding-O Bingo Scavenger Hunt will allow attendees to self-tour the exhibits in an engaging but distanced manner and win a prize for completion. Scavenger hunt forms will be available online at dingdarlingdays.com and that day at the information table at the bottom of the center’s ramp.
Other free activities will include a four-mile, ranger-guided “Go the Distance” bike tour at 9:30 a.m. and a 1 p.m. 75th Anniversary Presentation with acting Refuge Manager Kevin Godsea and dignitaries, outdoors in the parking lot area. Also in the lot, 2021 “Ding” Artist in Residence Rachel Pierce will do nature art demonstrations, and the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge will display the winning photos from its 2020 “Ding” Darling Day Amateur Nature Photography Contest.
“‘Ding’ Day may look entirely different this year, but it still has the same mission to get families and others out to the refuge and exploring and learning about the great outdoors,” event Committee Chair and Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland said. “We didn’t want to miss an opportunity to celebrate our official 75th anniversary date on Dec. 1 with friends and neighbors as safely as possible.”
‘DING’ DARLING DAY SCHEDULED ACTIVITIES
– 7 a.m.: Wildlife Drive opens for free
– 9 a.m.: Information table opens with scavenger hunt forms and hand-outs. Wildlife Drive/Indigo Trail and parking lot stations open for safe self-touring.
– 9:30 a.m.: Ranger-guided, four-mile “Go the Distance” Distanced Bike Tour on Wildlife Drive (bring your own bicycle and helmet and meet at the flagpole)
– 1 p.m.: 75th Anniversary Presentation in the parking lot
ONGOING ACTIVITIES (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in main parking lot)
– Exhibitors along Wildlife Drive and Indigo Trail, including CROW exhibit
– “Ding” Darling Day Amateur Nature Photography Contest Winners display
– Art demonstrations by 2021 Resident Artist Rachel Pierce
– USFWS Law Enforcement Trailer
– USFWS Fire Demo
– Mobile Nature Store
– Scavenger hunt with prizes
– Plein-air artists in parking lot and along Wildlife Drive and Indigo Trail
For more information, call 239-472-1100, ext. 237, or visit dingdarlingdays.com.