Hopefully, at 5:39 we will see the sun set near Palmetto Mound, which was an ancient burial ground. Each of the past 5 years, the weather has been cold and blustery. Each of those years, we had to imagine the sun setting behind the clouds we were watching. Nevertheless, we celebrated.
Be there, rain or shine. It is becoming a Friends' tradition.
If you are thinking about an end-of-year or future gift to Friends, consider making a donation to help with our matching fund commitment that will help leverage the grant for work at Vista.
By way of update, the November News Brief mentioned that the grant had met a bump in the road. Because of the recent hurricanes in our state, architects and contractors are harder to hire and more costly than our proposal projected when we submitted it in summer 2021. With Refuge Manager Andrew Gude, Friends continues working on ways to move ahead in the new fiscal reality.
Currently, Friends has about 210 members, down from 260 before the pandemic. We would like to rebuild the membership base to increase our strength as advocates for our Refuges.
If you took a membership break during the pandemic, please consider renewing your membership. If you don't know whether your membership lapsed, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will let you know.
In hopes of encouraging you to participate in Friends accomplishments, here is a long overview of what has happened in 2022.
Members and Visitors
Outreach and Advocacy
Be a Friend. Support our Refuges. Thanks!
On Saturday, November 19, Friends hosted the Paynes Prairie Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society on a nature walk led by Refuge Manager Andrew Gude. The walk was a follow up to a talk Andrew gave at the Native Plant Society's meeting in Gainesville a few days earlier. About 25 participants walked from Gate 14 along the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge's Nature Drive to Fletcher's Landing on the Suwannee River.
Check out the nice piece in the January edition of The Rhexia, their newsletter, about their visit with us.
In August, speaking for the board and Friends, our president Debbie Meeks wrote to Congressman Neal Dunn, and our Senators to advocate for improving the internet at the Refuge.
In this day and age, no organization can work efficiently and effectively with weak internet connections. We had already bumped into connectivity issues with internet when Friends had volunteered to staff the Welcome Desk at Refuge headquarters before the pandemic closures. We'd known that staff were required to use cloud-based software programs for map-making and other functions. However, the internet connections were often not reliable enough to do the work.
In October, Congressman Dunn replied that he had made inquiries of the Fish and Wildlife Service in response to Debbie's letter. It looks like there is now some hope for improvement. Friends is delighted and hopes it is not long in coming to fruition.