salt marsh scene banner

Friends of St. Marks
Wildlife Refuge
PO Box 368
St. Marks, FL 32355

Phone: (850) 925-6121

Email for more information

Photo Credits

About Us

The St. Marks Refuge Association Inc., formed in 1987, is the non-profit 501 (c) (3) friends organization that supports the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in all aspects of its mission.  In May 2015, the Association’s membership voted to adopt and legally register the name “Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge” and to do business under that archaic indian stone pointname. 

The Refuge occupies 70,000 acres along 45 miles of coastline, south of Tallahassee, Florida, an area with a rich cultural history going back about 15,000 years.  Over 300,000 people visit the Refuge each year, from around the country and world, to bird watch, hike, bike, fish, paddle, see the Lighthouse, or just enjoy the peace and beauty of the Refuge’s diverse habitats.  The Refuge also provides environmental education programs to over 16,000 school children, families and adults.  Programs include Tots on Trails, Families in Nature, Digital Nature Photography and summer programs for Refuge Ambassador Leads Tourschool age children.  Annual festivals, special events and First Sunday guest speakers also draw hundreds of visitors.

Friends support is critical to operation of the Refuge’s projects and Programs.Volunteers from the Friends and others contribute over 20,000 hours each year, which has a value in excess of $250,000.  Tasks range from greeting visitors, leading tours and teaching, to office operation and producing documents, to assisting with conservation projects and maintaining property and equipment.  Volunteers have varied backgrounds and range in age from 18 to over 80 and include local high school and college students who come for a semester or just during Spring Break.  Anyone under 18 must have written parental approval.

The Friends of St. Marks Refuge also provides substantial financial support for Refuge projects and activities (see examples below).  Funds are generated from membership dues and donations, special events and solicitations, bequests and other gifts, profits from our Nature Store located in the Visitor Center, and occasional grants.  In 2012, the Association began an Endowment Fund to ensure long-term financial support for the Refuge.

For more detailed information on the Friends’ accomplishments, you can view the current and recent Annual Reports here:

2016-17 Annual Report (current)
2015-16 Annual Report
2014-15 Annual Report.

Examples of Financial Support of the Refuge

The Friends support many large and small activities, projects and miscellaneous costs throughout any given year, so an exhaustive list is not possible.  But here are some large and small examples of contributions.

Some larger contributions

  • Furnishings for new Environmental Education building (about $10,000)
  • Intern positions for biological projects involving at-risk species
  • Kiosks featuring historical and cultural resources on the refuge
  • Printing of newsletter and some brochures
  • St Marks Lighthouse, earmarked restoration costs
  • Peeper for Red Cockaded Woodpecker monitoring (wireless optical system)
  • Costs associated with acquiring the donation of Byrd Hammock archaeological site
  • Costs to upgrade Nature Store inventory and cash receipt system

Some smaller contributions

  • Burrow scope for Gopher Tortoise monitoring
  • Overlook and bench on the Levee Trail
  • Bench overlook at Mounds Pool
  • Transportation scholarships for classes attending refuge programs from schools having limited resources
  • Visitor Center courtyard sculpture
  • Sponsorship of annual festivals (e.g., Monarch Festival, WHO Festival)
  • Longleaf pine educational poster
  • Wildlife Drive Guide
  • First Sunday Programs for the Refuge
  • Purchase of kayaks for the Refuge outdoor program


Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge is governed according to a set of Bylaws (adopted September 11, 2016), and its relationship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, parent agency for national wildlife refuges, is established through a Friends Partnership Agreement (which has two addenda). The Friends group is led by an all-volunteer Board of Directors (see below), which has no paid staff. Board meetings start at 5:45 pm meetings and are held the second Thursday of each month. Please call 925-6121 for meeting location. Board meetings are open to the public.

Board of Directors

Susan Cason

Sue Conte

John Haines

Melissa Jacoby

Susan Cason
Sue Conte
Leslie Paugh
Carol Phillips
Phillip Pollock
Laura Rush
Karen Willes
Nicole Zampieri

USFWS Liaison
Robin Will




Questions or problems Web Administrator

Copyright: St. Marks Refuge Association, 2013