Intern Caitlyn Nalley recently arrived 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).

Nalley graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in May 2020 with a double major in environmental studies and international studies. She now serves as a development and communications intern for DDWS.

“I love getting to live near the sea and being able to go to the beach whenever I want,” said the Louisville, Ky., native. “I’m looking forward to learning the ins-and-outs of a nonprofit, gaining experience across new fields, and meeting people passionate about environmental stewardship.”


During her initial quarantine period, Nalley first hunkered down during Tropical Storm Sally and accompanying tornado warnings, but has since been getting out on bike rides to learn the island and acclimate to the heat and humidity, she said.

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.”

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].