On Sept. 8, education intern Alfredo Carbajal joined the team at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island to help with staffing shortages, thanks to funding from the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS). He will fill the role as one of two bilingual interpreters and translators for the refuge’s forthcoming Wildlife on Wheels (WoW) mobile classroom and other educational “Ding” programs.

Born in San Antonio, Tex., Carbajal graduated from the University of Texas in San Antonio in December 2019 with a major in environmental science and a concentration in wildlife management. He has a special interest in herbaceous and woody plants and also spent three years at the university assisting with monarch butterfly research.

Carbajal recently finished an internship with the Chicago Field Museum, where he helped mainly with its Monarch Community Science project as a bilingual interpreter. Spanish is the intern’s first language, having learned it from his family, who immigrated from Mexico, and during summers spent working on his grandfather’s ranch there.

“Refuges play a major role in not only conserving the beauty of wildlife for our enjoyment, but also highlighting the importance and benefits of conservation through education and outreach,” said Carbajal. “I am honored and excited to be able to have a part in aiding that mission.”

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

“We are excited to have Alfredo on the team to help us reach Latin populations,” said supervisory refuge ranger Toni Westland. “Our interns bring youthful energy, enthusiasm, and creativity to the game, and we always welcome that.”

For more information about the refuge’s internship programs, contact Westland at 239-472-1100 ext. 237. To learn about supporting the refuge intern program, contact Lynnae Messina, DDWS associate director, 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 dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Miller at 239-472-1100 ext. 4 or [email protected].