Intern Julie D’Agostino recently arrived from Ohio to help J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge with staff shortages in the coming season, thanks to funding from the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS).


D’Agostino received her bachelor’s degree in environmental geography from Ohio University in 2015. Her most recent job was Corporate Partnerships with the National Basketball Association, working with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Canton Charge teams, until she was laid off due to the pandemic.


“I’m stoked to have this opportunity to work in my field of study with skills I have experience in,” said the Broadview Heights, Ohio, native. “It gives me satisfaction knowing that I’m in a position where I can engage the community and teach people the importance of the environment. I look forward to growing my skills in graphic design and social media while learning more about the wildlife here.”


D’Agostino’s DDWS internship ends in June 2021, but she hopes to be able to continue living in Florida and working in a field she is passionate about.

DDWS provides living stipends and other benefits for more than a dozen interns each year. The refuge supports interns with free housing.

“Our interns bring youthful energy, enthusiasm, and creativity to the refuge team,” said DDWS executive director Birgie Miller. “At the same time, the program gives college students and recent graduates an opportunity to learn hands-on about the environment and refuge and non-profit operations. The interns fill in the gaps to support the refuge where government budgets fall woefully short.”

For more information about the refuge’s internship programs, contact supervisory refuge ranger Toni Westland at 239-472-1100 ext. 237. To make a donation in support of the program, contact Lynnae Messina at 239-472-1100 ext. 233.


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 contact Birgie Miller at 239-292-0566 or [email protected].