Kimi Birrer recently joined the team at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel, thanks to funding from the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge. She fills the role of educator and bilingual interpreter for the Wildlife on Wheels mobile classroom and other educational refuge programs.
Born in northern Kentucky, Birrer graduated from Hanover College in Indiana in May, majoring in environmental biology and Spanish. This summer, she did some field work in Wisconsin and worked on a Kentucky horse farm before recently arriving at the Sanibel refuge.
“Kimi is fluent in Spanish, so she will be such a valuable asset in helping us fulfill our mission to reach the local Latino community,” refuge urban education leader Melissa Maher said. “Our first priority with WoW outreach is to travel to underserved schools and other venues where kids and adults don’t have the opportunity to visit the refuge.”
“I’ve been studying Spanish seriously since entering college and have volunteered at a local nonprofit at my school that aids immigrants in many ways, mostly with learning English and civics,” Birrer said. “I also spent a year abroad in Costa Rica, where I worked with biologists on various projects. I really enjoy language learning and being able to communicate with more people as a result. I’m looking forward to being able to combine my passions for conservation, cross-cultural understanding and learning.”
An avid birder and traveler, she highly anticipates spending the winter season on Sanibel.
“I’m excited to inspire others to be passionate about the things that matter to me and everyone here at the refuge,” Birrer said.
The DDWS provides living stipends and other benefits for more than a dozen interns each year. For more information, contact DDWS Associate Director Lynnae Messina at 239-472-1100 ext. 233.
The DDWS currently stewards two named internships for the 2020-21 year and is accepting donations for three future named intern funds at $12,500 a year, which is the cost for supporting one intern including stipends, travel, tolls, Sanibel Recreation Center membership, and other expenses.