Carter Joost recently joined the team at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island as the Sue Tray Memorial Visitor Services Intern, working full-time through the summer.


Joost spent the previous school year studying economics and international relations at American University in Washington, D.C., from which he graduates in 2025. He recently worked for Pape Machinery Construction & Forestry in Sacramento, Cal., and lived for many years in the Miami area before that.


“My favorite part about working at ‘Ding’ Darling? It’s probably the typical answer, but I really love the birds,” said Joost. “How could I not?”


The intern looks forward to helping the refuge fill in the gaps where staffing falls short because of federal budget cuts. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring, reading, and playing the upright bass.

The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) provides housing, living stipends, and other benefits for six to eight interns each year. Since Hurricane Ian destroyed onsite intern housing, DDWS has procured temporary housing on and off island.


“We welcome Carter’s energy and enthusiasm,” said Refuge Manager Bob Gerwig. “We thank our friends group for making our internships possible. With our shrinking staff, this sort of partnership is crucial to keep the refuge running, especially as we continue to rebuild after Hurricane Ian’s destruction.”

Former, longtime Sanibel Island resident Hal Tray established a permanently endowed internship in memory of his wife through DDWS. The Sue Tray Memorial Internship for Visitor Services, the second permanently endowed internship for DDWS, guarantees ongoing funding for one intern annually to assist the refuge visitor services staff.

DDWS currently stewards two named internships for the 2024-2025 year and is accepting donations for three future named intern funds at $26,000 a year, which is the cost for supporting one intern including housing, stipends, travel, and other expenses. For information about supporting refuge internship programs, contact Ann-Marie Wildman, DDWS executive director, at 239-789-8991.

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].