J.N. "Ding" Darling NWR
Southeast Region
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"Ding" Darling Wildlife Society

Society Logo. Credit:

Society Logo. Credit: "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society

Many National Wildlife Refuges receive valuable support from private, non-profit organizations that enter into formal agreements to be Friends groups. The "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society, Inc. (known as the "Society" or DDWS), founded in 1982, is the Friends Group of the J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

The mission of the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society is to promote an understanding of the natural environment of Southwest Florida in cooperation with the refuge and its missions, goals, and objectives.

The Society's financial contributions fund many of the refuge's educational initiatives, including the various brochures, directional and interpretive signs, and exhibits. It also makes larger educational projects possible, including the Education Center building and its exhibits, the Education Pavilion on the Cross-dike Trail, the Refuge Orientation video, and interpretive radio messages. It also provides considerable financial support for the refuge volunteer program.

In addition to financial support, the Society carries out projects for the benefit of the Refuge such as co-sponsoring the "Ding" Darling Days week long celebration. The Society also assists non-educational programs at the refuge. For example, it acts as an intermediary to purchase parcels of land for the refuge.

Sources of Income

Ding Darling Days. Credit: USFWS

"Ding" Darling Days. Credit: USFWS

Memberships - Membership categories include Individual, Family, Supporting, Contributor, Sponsor, Life, and Business. Every member is sent a membership card, a decal, and a quarterly newsletter.

Bookstore/Refuge Nature Gift Shop

The Bookstore provides visitors with educational materials related to refuge natural and cultural resources and management, and provides souvenirs of the refuge. Bookstore merchandise can be purchased on their website, www.dingdarlingstore.com.


The Memorial Fund allows financial contributions to be made to the Society in someone's name. The names of those honored are inscribed in the Memorial Book, which is on display in the Education Center.


The Society generates funds for special projects with occasional fund-raising campaigns, including applications for grants to various foundations.

Last updated: November 9, 2010