In celebration of National Wildlife Refuge Week and “Ding” Darling’s 146th birthday, “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge and J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel announced that Art in the Wild will be held on Saturday, October 21st.
“Ding” Darling originally scheduled the inaugural event for October 2022, but canceled it after Hurricane Ian closed the refuge in September for six months.
The famous Hautman brothers, multiple Federal Duck Stamp Contest winners, will make personal appearances that day. A special exhibition of their nature art also will be on display in the “Ding” Darling Visitor & Education Center auditorium during the month. Joe Hautman won the 2023-2024 contest and will be signing his winning stamp depicting three tundra swans.
The refuge’s current Artist in Residence Jacqui Roch will be on hand to lead nature-art demos and workshops, plus expect the announcement of the 2023 “Ding” Darling Amateur Photo Contest winners, the unveiling of The Roost outdoor pavilion, and a traveling Federal Duck Stamp exhibit (on display Oct. 10-29). Admission to Wildlife Drive will be free on Oct. 21.
“This will become an annual fall tradition to celebrate “Ding” Darling’s art legacy and role in creating the Federal Duck Stamp Program, which has continued for nearly 90 years and preserved six million acres of sensitive wetlands and wildlife habitat,” said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland.