To further its mission reaching and connecting with local urban communities, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge returns to Lakes Park in Fort Myers for its 35th annual “Ding” Darling Day on Saturday, April 20. The free celebration also observes Earth Day, which officially falls on April 22. Parking is free that day at Lakes Park as the park celebrates its 40th birthday.


The refuge and “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) have planned a full day of Conservation Carnival activities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Special free outdoor activities include carnival games, prizes, archery, a dunk tank, a rock-climbing wall, Earth Day crafts, art demonstrations, guided bilingual birding walks, a biking tour, guided mindfulness programs, live music, food, and educational interactions with other local conservation organizations.


See the day’s schedule of activities below. Sign up for activities in advance at or upon arrival on a first-come basis. Visit for more information.

Ongoing (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) Nature-theme carnival games and prizes, snow-cone truck, live music, face-painting, rock-climbing, dunk tank, Hover-Ball Archery, live painting demos by “Ding” Darling’s Artist in Residence Jacqui Roch, Wildlife Olympics, and Earth Day shell craft.

10 a.m. “Ding” Darling Day opens at Lakes Park. Check in and receive information at Welcome Table in Main Pavilion.

10:30 a.m. Nature Photography: 45minutes, 20-guest maximum

11 a.m. Kids Nature Hunt: 45 minutes, 20-children maximum

11:30 a.m. Bilingual Birding with Ranger Yvette: 45 minutes, 20-guest maximum

12:30 p.m. Sketch & Stroll Nature Journaling: 45 minutes, 20-guest maximum

1 p.m. Yoga: 60 minutes, 25-guest maximum

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS), and Tarpon Bay Explorers cosponsor “Ding” Darling Day with generous support from the local community and businesses.

DDWS seeks sponsors for the event, which will be highly publicized throughout the Southwest Florida area. Contact April Boehnen at [email protected] or 440-452-9083 for more information.


Current “Ding” Darling Day sponsors include: GREAT BLUE HERON SPONSOR: RS Walsh Landscaping + Design; REDDISH EGRET SPONSORS: Friend of “Ding,” Lee County Parks & Recreation, Florida Arts & Culture.



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 profits. To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit or Ann-Marie Wildman at 239-789-8991 or [email protected].