Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge
P.O. Box 39
316 Marsh Causeway
Knotts Island, NC 27950

Contact: Mike Hoff 252-429-3100

News Release

June 25, 2010

Local Children visit Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge without Leaving Their Neighborhood

Knotts Island, NC - Vacation Bible School participants at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, VA recently took a “road trip” to learn about various natural resources in their area. Since Mackay Island and Currituck National Wildlife Refuges were nearby, they were chosen to be “destinations” for the children. Many of the children have visited Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge, and some even live right next door.

Visitor Services Specialist Cindy Heffley and Volunteer Bob Glennon traveled from Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges to lend a hand to the Friends of Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge. Friends members and Mackay Island Volunteers Ron and Danny Johnson were on hand to help provide a fun learning time for the 145 travelers. From preschoolers to sixth graders, all of the children had a chance to learn about the importance of refuges and the plants and animals that live there. They even had an opportunity to climb aboard an airboat to get an idea of how biologists perform many of their surveys at the refuge. Although the heat was hovering at 98 degrees, none of the children complained about leaving the air conditioned building to discover what is "up the road" from their church.

Live samples of wetland plants, along with flowers, mature seed, or green fruit, helped the children see first-hand some of the plants that are so important for the refuge critters. Volunteer Bob Glennon enjoyed sharing with the children as they climbed on the picnic table seats right next to him. He noted, "The students were really interested in looking at the flowers especially the swamp rose mallow with the yellow pollen spores dotting the inside of the pink blossoms.” Quite a few thought the dissected green fruit of swamp iris looked like okra or a pepper.

A mounted osprey, cattle egret and pintail duck provided the children with close-up views of bird adaptations. Along with the mounts, numerous photos of refuge wildlife gave the children a glimpse of what they might see when visiting the refuge. Although the younger children were more interested in “petting” the bird mounts, many of the older ones recounted stories of spotting various critters in their yards or at the refuge. Still others told of hunting and fishing on the refuge.

For more information about Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge, visit To learn more about the Friends of Mackay Island, visit

Friends of Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge member and Refuge Volunteer Ron Johnson Sr. explains the purpose of the airboat for refuge management.
Photo Credit: Cindy Heffley, USFWS.

Visitor Services Specialist Cindy Heffley introduces the children to wildlife found on Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge and explains why the refuge is so important. Photo Credit: Bob Glennon, USFWS.

Volunteer Bob Glennon uses live samples of wetland plants to help the children understand the importance of native plants on the refuge to provide food for the wildlife. Photo Credit: Cindy Heffley, USFWS.