Rain has become a reliable partner in Friends events, or so it seems. It stormed for both the Summer Solstice Celebration and the Winter Solstice Celebration. Again today, storms were with us. As the photos below by Friends member Molly Jubitz show, skies over Cedar Key were ominous when it was time to head out to the Refuge.
Not at all deterred by the morning clouds, the midday deluge, and quite an abundance of no-see-ums, more than 110 members attended the 2022 Annual Meeting on the Refuge. It was the first in-person Annual Meeting in two years.
The day started out cloudy, warm, and threatening. Members registered, shopped for Friends shirts and the new Butterflies of the Lower Suwannee Refuge guidebooks. Seeing each other for the first time since the February 2020 meeting, conversations were warm and happy.
The rain held off until the program started about 10:00. Inside, Friends President Debbie Meeks welcomed everyone. Refuge Manager Andrew Gude gave an update on accomplishments of the past year and expectations for activities in the near future. Responding to a question from a member, Andrew described efforts to manage negative impacts on wildlife caused by airboat misuse on the Refuge.
Debbie gave an update on the Friends accomplishments of the past year and plans for the coming one. She presented the slate of officers and directors, whom the members elected. She provided an overview of the financial status of the Friends.
Members socialize over an indoor lunch.
The nature walk to Vista in the pouring rain was cancelled. However, at the end of the lunch, catered by Ken and Rose McCain, Sandra Smith presented Andrew with a symbolic key to the Vista property. She and her sister Linda Alexander recently gave up their life estate on the property, turning full access over to the Refuge for future development as an interpretive center.
It was delightful to meet back on the Refuge again.