SANIBEL,Fla.- A group from Russia spent the day touring the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel. Over the years, the wildlife refuge has been successful in keeping visitors curious about the park and allowing them to be one with nature.
I think putting away the technology for awhile and biking and exercising, getting out and really enjoying nature is what we need to do," said refuge manager, Toni Westland.
And now, the hard work put into that success is being recognized by other countries. 11 Russian managers with Baikal State Nature Reserve are touring Ding Darling, hoping to take back some of the education that has worked so well for the Sanibel refuge.
"Mostly because of our high visitation and our visitor center to show them how we do brochures and signage and how we honor our 260 volunteers," said Westland.
It's part of a program called "Wildlife Without Borders," a conservation connection the U.S. has with both Russia and China. Through a translator, the director of the reserve in Baikal tells WINK News, Ding Darling is a role model.
"We want to get acquainted with the experience with the U.S. in the field of nature conservation with U.S. National parks," said the Director of the Baikal State Nature Reserve, Vasily Sutula.
Two years ago, Toni Westland with Ding Darling traveled to Lake Baikal to help design two visitor centers, an education tool vital in spreading a wealth of information.
"When I was there and helping them design visitor centers, that's a new concept for them, people actually getting out and getting educated."
The design of one of the visitor centers in Baikal is complete, and they hope to begin construction this year. The other is still in the design phase.