Friends meet and bid farewell

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 By Pam Darty

Refuge Ranger

Once again, the place to be last Saturday was the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge Friends Annual Meeting and Refuge Open House. Not only did everyone have a divine dinner, but all were treated to author Jack Davis and his take on the history of the Gulf. Afterward, nature hikes revealed on-the-ground projects of 2013.

Federal agency Friends groups are mandated to hold a business meeting each year for their membership, reporting finances, holding elections and celebrating accomplishments. When it comes to accomplishments, the group’s “cup runneth over.”  Initiatives like Education and Trail Development, to name just two, help the public’s understanding of Refuge work and broaden the recreational opportunities. 

Amidst all of the business meeting, Gulf history and ecology presentations, there was an additional celebration for Refuge Officer Ken McCain. Out of thousands of employees, McCain was selected as the US Fish & Wildlife Service Employee of the Year. He received a standing ovation from the crowd of over 100 when introduced. Old friends and co-workers came out of the woodwork to celebrate the prestigious award, as well as his retirement after 22 years with the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges.

Don’t miss the event next year. Join the Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges and get in on all the fun.  Check-out their bulletin board at the City Marina for the latest news.