'Ding' Darling is going to do some serious, and fun, trash talking on Earth Day this year.
On Saturday, April 19, the 'Ding' Darling Wildlife Refuge will open its gates to plein-air artists, hikers and bikers to celebrate the 44th anniversary of Earth Day.
The day will be filled to the brim with activities for hikers and bikers, who will get free admission for using their eco-friendly feet or bicycles to tour Wildlife Drive. Plein-air artists will be allowed to sit and work on nature-inspired pieces of art.
Bagzilla and friends.
"There's never a dull moment at the Earth Day celebrations at the refuge," said Education Ranger Becky Wolff. "There are recycled art crafts, nature hies, artists along Wildlife Drive and tram rides all day. There is always something to do to celebrate the Earth."
An alarming, and educational, aspect to a 'Ding' Darling Earth Day is Bagzilla, a monstrous creature made up of 200+ single-use shopping bags, according to Wolff.
"This shows how many single-use bags an average American will use in the course of one year," she said. "What a monster it creates!"
Earth Day at the Refuge
'Ding' Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island
Saturday, April 19
Schedule of events:
Note: *Regular tram tour fees apply (buy tickets at booth in parking lot).
7 a.m.-7 p.m. Wildlife Drive is open free to bikers and hikers only ($5 fee per vehicle). Plein-art Artists will be painting along Wildlife Drive throughout the day.
8 a.m.4 p.m. Free bike rentals from Tarpon Bay Explorers' location at 900 Tarpon Bay Rd. (returns by 6 p.m.)
9:30-11 a.m. Biking the Refuge Tour-Join a naturalist on the 4-mile Wildlife Drive/Indigo Trail Loop to learn about the refuge's bird life and ecology. Meet at the flagpole.
10 a.m. 3 p.m. Ongoing Earth Crafts in the Education Center Classroom featuring Recycling Educator "Bagzilla." They will craft soda-bottle flower pots, 'cloud window' frames, 'Mother Earth' ornaments, colorful plastic bottle butterflies/jellyfish, and 'plarn' (plastic bag yarn) bracelets.
10-11 a.m. Guided Hike along Indigo Trail-Join a refuge naturalist on a guided nature hike along Indigo Trail to the new Wildlife Education Boardwalk. Meet at the flagpole.
*10-11:30 a.m. Narrated refuge tram tour
11:00-11:30 a.m. Reading in the Refuge: Family story-time about sea turtles. (Education Center Auditorium)
*11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Narrated refuge tram tour?12-12:30 p.m. "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)
1-1:30 p.m. Reading in the Refuge: Family story-time about manatees. (Education Center Auditorium)
*1-2:30 p.m. Narrated refuge tram tour
2-2:30 p.m. UPcycle Trash: Learn how to turn trash into yarn, jewelry, and other masterpieces. (Education Center Auditorium)
*2:30-4 p.m. Narrated refuge tram tour
*4-5:30 p.m. Narrated refuge tram tour
The Earth Day celebration is in partnership with 'Ding' Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge and Tarpon Bay Explorers.
The first 200 visitors on April 19 will receive a free UPcycled T-shirt bag, courtesy of DDWS.
"This is the time for cyclists and hikers to do Wildlife Drive for free," said Wolff, also a refuge education specialist and the Earth Day event organizer. "You can even get free bicycle rentals if you pick up at Tarpon Bay Explorers, our concessionaire, that day."
Artists who wish to participate in the plein-air activity may contact Toni Westland at 472-1100 ext. 237 to gain free admission to Wildlife Drive. For more information on Earth Day at the Refuge, call 472-1100 ext. 236 or visit dingdarlingsociety.org/earth-day.