Alligator River/Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 1969
Manteo, North Carolina 27954

Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131

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News Release

March 1, 2011

Refuge Intern and Refuge Wildlife Biologist: Dynamic Duo that Benefits more than Wildlife!

Dennis Stewart has been the Refuge Biologist for Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges since 1994. He is widely known for his expertise in the area of environmental permits, as well as being a first rate Wildlife Biologist. But, what most people do not know about Dennis is his active and passionate role with the Boy Scouts of America as Scoutmaster for Troop 165 in Dare County. Dennis has been involved as a leader with this troop since 1996, when his son William was a scout. William completed his requirements for the rank of Eagle Scout, is now 27 years old, and is an Assistant Scoutmaster with his dad.

Enter John Vanek, Refuge Intern and Eagle Scout. John came to Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge as a 6-month intern in the fall of 2010. His primary area of responsibility was assisting a research crew from Virginia Tech on the US 64 Wildlife Crossings Study. This project was initiated by the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service and funded by the N. C. Department of Transportation for the purpose of developing scientifically valid databases that will be used to determine optimum locations for wildlife crossings as the highway is upgraded from a 2-lane to a 4-lane facility. John has gained experience with GPS instrumentation on black bears and red wolves, hair traps, and road kill surveys. John has completed all work assignments with high levels of interest, enthusiasm, and professionalism. He has also volunteered for numerous other assignments such as assisting with trapping and banding black ducks at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Since arriving on the refuge, John has put the knowledge and skills he developed while earning scouting's highest honor to work for the benefit of local Troop 165. He immediately signed on as an Assistant Scoutmaster and has been a tremendous asset to the troop. Scouts in the troop look to him for guidance and ideas, and they respect his leadership.

John will be traveling to Indiana next to work with timber rattlesnakes as his next endeavor. He will certainly be missed, both on the refuge and in the community. John will take with him the things he learned while a refuge intern, as well as the experience of giving to a community. And, he will leave a part of himself with the refuge and with the scouts he served.

Dennis, of course, will remain here in eastern North Carolina and carry-on, both with his job with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and with his scouting passion. There is no doubt about the impact he has had and will continue to have on these young minds, hearts, and souls, as well as the wildlife legacy that belongs to them and their children.

John and Dennis
Refuge Intern John Vanek and Refuge Biologist Dennis Stewart have made quite a team both for wildlife management and for community involvement. They work together on the refuge to benefit wildlife resources. They work together with scouts to mold the characters of young men.
Photo credit: Bonnie Strawser, FWS.