Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge will represent Delaware in the "America the Beautiful" quarter program. A coin launch ceremony will be held at the wildlife refuge on Friday, Sept. 18.

A Delaware site will be in the national spotlight next week, as the U.S. Mint releases a new quarter honoring Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

As part of the “America the Beautiful” quarter series, the new coin depicting Bombay Hook features a great blue heron and an egret, two of the striking birds that can be seen at the wildlife refuge.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Bombay Hook manager Oscar Reed. “I think it helps bring more people to the refuge. It’s going to bring national attention to us, and for people in Delaware, it’s a reminder about the treasure that is right here in their back yard.”

Two programs will be held at the wildlife refuge near Smyrna to celebrate the new quarter: a coin forum on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 6 p.m., and a coin launch ceremony on Friday, Sept. 18 at 10 a.m. The manager of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, Marc Landry, is scheduled to attend.

“I’m uniquely excited about this launch because we are making these Bombay Hook quarters 67 miles north of here at our plant in Philadelphia,” said Landry. “Many people in our plant are Delaware residents, so this quarter carries a special meaning to the men and women of the United States Mint. This new coin stands as a tribute to this National Wildlife Refuge – a safe haven for these migratory creatures and a testament to what dedicated humans can do to protect our world.”

Reed said the wildlife refuge hosts a wide variety of animals but is most known for its birds, including the black necked stilt, sandpipers, and the heron and egret featured on the new quarter, along with ducks, Canada geese, and snow geese.

How the design was selected

The staff at Bombay Hook helped direct the design of the new quarter, according to Tina Watson, Bombay Hook outdoor recreation planner.

“We were very honored to be chosen and interested in how the whole process would work and what would end up on the quarter,” Watson said.

Artists submitted designs to the U.S. Mint, and a committee at the U.S. Mint reviewed the designs, consulting with the staff at Bombay Hook.

“We would talk by telephone,” said Watson. “It was up to the committee to make the final decision, but it was neat to see how that evolved and to be able to offer our input.”

Reed said the committee asked about the authenticity of proposed designs – whether the featured birds could actually be seen at the refuge and if the scenery in the background was an accurate depiction.

While his initial preference was for a quarter featuring Canada geese, he quickly warmed to the chosen design.

“We had seen two-dimensional drawings, but when I saw this as it would appear on the coin, it really took on a new life,” said Reed. “I really like it.”

Educational opportunity

The Bombay Hook staff has organized educational programs in conjunction with the U.S. Mint for visitors at the refuge, including information about the refuge and about herons and egrets which are featured on the Bombay Hook quarter.

“I think it will bring some people to the refuge who don’t know about the refuge system or what we’re all about,” said Watson. “It’s a new way to educate people on wildlife conservation and habitat conservation.”

So far, Watson has sent the lesson plan, “Scenes from a Salt Marsh,” to the Smyrna and Capital school districts with information on how the plan aligns with the Common Core standards.

At the refuge, a favorite activity for children and families has been noting where they see a heron or egret and then coming back to the visitors center to place a corresponding push pin in the refuge map on display.

New quarter program began seven years ago

The process that led to the Bombay Hook quarter started seven years ago, with the passage of the America's Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008. The act directs the U.S. Mint to design, mint, and issue 56 quarter-dollar coins emblematic of a national park or other national site in each state, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories. In 2009, Timothy Geithner, who was Secretary of the Treasury at the time, approved the list of sites recommended by the U.S. Mint after consultation with the governor or chief executive of each host jurisdiction and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

In accordance with the act, the U.S. Mint started issuing the new quarters in 2010 at the rate of five per year in the order in which each honored place was first established as a national site. The final coin will be released in 2021.

In 2010, the first quarter released honored Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. Bombay Hook is the 29th quarter to be issued.

QUARTER LAUNCH EVENTS

Thursday, Sept. 17

Coin Forum: 6 p.m., Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, 2591 Whitehall Neck Road, off of Route 9, about five miles southeast of Smyrna and one mile north of Leipsic. Marc Landry, manager of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, is scheduled to introduce the “America the Beautiful” quarter dedicated to Bombay Hook. After a short presentation on herons, one of the birds featured on the quarter, the U.S. Mint will provide information about the “America the Beautiful” coin series. This free event is supported by the Friends of Bombay Hook. Light refreshments will be served.

Friday, Sept. 18

Bombay Hook Coin Launch Ceremony: 10 a.m., Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, 2591 Whitehall Neck Road, off of Route 9, about five miles southeast of Smyrna and one mile north of Leipsic. The free event will celebrate Bombay Hook being selected to represent Delaware for the U.S. Mint's “America the Beautiful” series, with representatives from the U.S. Mint and a host of state and national leaders scheduled to attend. Following the ceremony, visitors can buy the new quarter from 11 a.m. to noon, with a $10 minimum purchase (cash only) and $100 maximum, provided by Dover Federal Credit Union. Also at 11 a.m., music will be provided by Leilani Wall, an information table will be set up by the Friends of Bombay Hook, and tours of the refuge will be offered.

For more information, call (302) 653-9345 or see the website fws.gov/refuge/bombay_hook.