Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Giveaways, free bike use and crafts part of refuge's Earth Day

Trash-talking, plarn and Bagzilla? Just a few highlights of the adult and kid activities available at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Earth Day this Friday, April 22.

The refuge will celebrate the 41st anniversary of Earth Day in partnership with Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) and Tarpon Bay Explorers (TBE).

“This year’s activities are geared for all ages,” said Ranger Becky Wolff, refuge education specialist. “We’ll introduce our disposable bag-costumed Bagzilla, and teach people how to make yarn out of plastic bags to weave into their own sturdy, reusable shopping bags.”

Below is the schedule for earth-friendly and free fun:

• 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. — The refuge’s Wildlife Drive is open free to bikers and hikers only (no vehicular traffic is allowed on Fridays).

• 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Free bike rentals from Tarpon Bay Explorers’ site (returns by 6 p.m.)

• 10 a.m. — The first 200 visitors to the Refuge will receive a free reusable shopping bag.

• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Ongoing Earth Crafts in the Education Center Education Lab

- Make your own "Mother Earth” ornament

- Create a pop-bottle butterfly or flower

- Learn from a pollinator and mind your own beeswax (candle, that is)

- Meet our newest refuge educator: Bagzilla

• 10 to 11 a.m. — Guided Native Plant walk along Indigo Trail

• 11:30 a.m. to noon — "Let's Talk Trash" Marine Timeline Competition for kids. How long does it take that trash to biodegrade in a marine environment? (Education Center Auditorium)

• Lunch on your own

• 1:30 to 2 p.m. — The Wonderful World of Pollinators (Education Center Auditorium) 

• 2:30 to 3 p.m. — Make Your Own Plarn. Plastic bag overload? Learn how to make "plarn" (plastic-bag yarn) and weave reusable shopping bags that are 10 times stronger than other plastic bags. (Education Center Auditorium)

For more information on Earth Day at the refuge, call 472-1100.

As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop proceeds.

To join DDWS and support the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit or contact Birgie Vertesch at 239-292-0566 or CHELLE KOSTER WALTON

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