Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge
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Time Capsule Event Summary

Director Dedicates Gift To Future Generations
Exhibit captures snapshot in time of national wildlife refuges

Director Steve Williams spoke to a capacity crowd at the Indian River Mall in Vero Beach, Florida on March 13 as he unveiled the National Wildlife Refuge System Time Capsule Exhibit. The exhibit consists of a collection of artifacts from national wildlife refuges across the country. This public event was the kick-off to the National Centennial Celebration at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.

More than 200 refuges, wetland management districts, and other stations submitted items to become a part of the time capsule. More than 60 of the items were featured during this first display of the time capsule. Additional items will be displayed as the exhibit moves to the Centennial Conference in November. After the conference, the time capsule will be temporarily housed at the National Conservation Training Center, until some future date when a visitors center can be constructed at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.

In dedicating the National Centennial Time Capsule Exhibit, Director Williams spoke about the significance of the more than 100 time capsules dedicated at refuges across the country to mark the Centennial. "It is fitting that as we celebrate this Centennial of the National Wildlife Refuge System, we send forth gifts to those who will follow, in the form of time capsules," said Williams. " We are preserving information and artifacts about the work that we do today. A century from now, these will be priceless treasures to future generations."

Williams was joined at the dedication by Deputy Assistant Secretary David P. Smith, Indian River (FL) County Commissioner Arthur Neuberger, Steve Hooks of the U.S. Postal Service, and J.B. Kump, District Director for Congressman Dave Weldon. Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge Manager Paul Tritaik served as Master of Ceremonies.

The event included several special guests. Billy McCloud and the Central Assembly Music Ministries of Vero Beach opened the event and set the tone with a rousing performance of patriotic songs. The program also featured Dr. Edmund Skellings, Poet Laureate of Florida, who introduced a poetry reading by Lynne Bama of Wapiti, Wyoming. Bama's poem, White Pelican, was the 2003 winner of the national Nature of Nature Poetry Contest sponsored by the Laura (Riding) Jackson Home Preservation Foundation's. The contest is held in honor of noted 19th century poet Laura (Riding) Jackson. This year's theme was selected as a celebration of the Refuge Centennial and of Jackson's love of the Florida environment.

Other special guests included James Foote, who gave a performance as President Theodore Roosevelt, and a march through the audience by the Peabody Orlando Ducks, and Challenger the bald eagle.

The audience of more than 600 sprawled into the mall, as people vied for a view of the event and the exhibit.

After the ceremony, Director Williams and children from the Pelican Island Elementary School Ecotroop unveiled the display to a cheering crowd.

Service Historian Mark Madison and Museum Curator Jeanne Harold offered tours of the exhibit following the unveiling, using the artifacts to tell the story of how the refuge system evolved and of modern conservation on national wildlife refuge.

The event was a fitting capstone on the first 100 years of wildlife conservation in America. "Tomorrow begins the second century of conservation," said Director Williams. "By preserving our history, we are giving future generations a window into how we live and work today - and hopefully, they will take some courage, and perhaps even inspiration, by looking back upon the gifts we give them."


Last updated: November 3, 2008