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Robert Jess Selected as Refuge Manager at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge


November 8, 2001

Christine Eustis, 404/679-7287

The Fish and Wildlife Service announces that Robert Jess has been selected to manage J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida. Jess, a ten-year veteran of the agency, has spent his entire Service career working for the refuge system. His most recent job was as Assistant Refuge Supervisor in the Southeast Regional Office in Atlanta, Georgia, overseeing all aspects of refuge management for Florida, South Georgia and the Caribbean and most recently, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Kentucky. "Rob Jess is an outstanding choice to manage one of the nation's premier wildlife refuges," said Sam Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. "I am confident that with his knowledge of refuge policies, in general, and the specific issues of Ding Darling, in particular, he will serve the needs of the refuge and the community."

Before overseeing refuges in the Southeast Regional Office, Jess was Deputy Refuge Manager at ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge in Hollywood, South Carolina. He focused on building partnerships with the local community to help manage the 13,000 acre refuge as part of the ACE Basin watershed. Other refuges where Jess worked include Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Lewistown, Montana. Jess began his Service career as a student trainee in the Cooperative Education Program, working for refuges such as Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Brigham City, Utah; National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and Ouray National Wildlife Refuge in Vernal, Utah while earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Management.

"My family and I are very excited and look forward to becoming a part of the community," said Jess. "I look forward to working with the people of Sanibel Island to protect and manage Ding Darling Refuge for future generations."

Jess was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and has moved more than 25 times as part of a military family but "looks forward to settling down for a while, actually a long while." He and his wife, Liz, have five children and two grandchildren. Melissa, married with two children in Charleston, South Carolina; Ryan age 16; Richard, age 13; Tyson, age 11; and Logan, age 8. When he is not in the woods hunting, fishing, or birding, he can be found at a Boy Scout event with his four sons or building hot rods in his garage.

Jess replaces Louis Hinds, who recently left the refuge to become the Refuge Supervisor overseeing Florida refuges in the Southeast Regional Office in Atlanta, Georgia.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System that encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at Our national home page is at:

Atlanta, GA 30345

Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

2001 News Releases

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