Several Friends members have requested the opportunity to see again the presentations given at the Annual Meeting. The presentation by Immediate Past President Maria Sgambati and President Russell Hall is linked below on the left. Refuge Manager Andrew Gude's presentation is linked on the right. More about the Annual Meeting is in the post below this one.
For the first time in three years . . . It Did Not Rain! We had cool breezes in the morning as people began to arrive early to visit the Photo Contest, explore the Friends Booth, take a morning walk on the River Trail, and shoot the breeze with Friends' friends.
By 10:00 when the program was beginning, almost 100 people had taken their places in our Refuge pole barn, including Dan and Sheila Frisk who drove down from Tallahassee for the day. He is now the Manager of the Refuge Complex that includes our Refuges, St. Vincent, and St Marks.
Outgoing president Maria Sgambati provided an overview of accomplishments of the past year and the financial status of Friends. Incoming president Russ Hall highlighted hopes and expectations for this next year. Former president Greg Lang presented the slate of officers and directors, asked for nominees from the floor, and led the members in the vote for the new board members. Refuge Manager Andrew Gude gave the feature presentation on The Lower Suwannee Refuge: Past, Present, and Future. The presentations are linked to the photos.
After lunch, catered by Treasure Camp of Fowlers Bluff, the results of the Photo Contest were announced. Twenty-nine photos were entered. More than half were sold in the silent auction, with the rest going back to their owners. The winners were:
In the afternoon, Refuge staff member Dalton Pelt provided a demonstration of techniques used in prescribed burns. Maria Sgambati and new board member Linda Tyson led a guided walk on the River Trail. Russ Hall led a walk on the Tram Ridge Loop Trail.
Many furry friends came this year.
The Refuge recently lost 2 of its fire crew to promotions within USFWS.
Anthony DiMaggio, a 10 year Lower Suwannee forestry technician, took a position at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City Beach as the FWS Fire Management Module Leader. He will be primarily involved with conducting prescribed burns at Tyndall and other Air Force installations.
Fire Equipment Operator, and new father, Josh Havird accepted a position as Assistant Fire Management Officer at St Marks NWR. At least Josh will still be in the North Florida NWR Complex, albeit some distance away.
Congratulations to these fine young men on their promotions and best of luck with their new assignments. These vacancies are frozen now, but we hope to replace these guys asap
The Refuge did gain one new face: Dalton Pelt joined the fire crew as a one-year term employee as part of a "Pathways" program internship while he completes his degree in Environmental Science at FSU. He brings a wealth of skills, and is the son of a familiar face: former LSNWR Fire Equipment Operator George Pelt. Welcome Dalton!
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The official government websites of the Refuges
"Escape to the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge" video by Visit Florida