COVID-19 Resources

We’ve started a list of resources to help navigate through the changes brought on by the coronavirus. Send us your favorite sites or post them in our Facebook Group and we’ll add them to the list.

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The Link — Spring 2020 Newsletter

The Link is a quarterly newsletter produced in coordination between the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Coalition of Refuge Friends & Advocates.


Letter from Caroline Brouwer, VP of Government Affairs, NWRA:

We have been so excited to focus our Spring 2020 The Link on the amazing festivals that Friends groups hold across the country. With the current outbreak of coronavirus across the country, we understand that many festivals this spring will likely be canceled to protect the public. We are, however, still sending out this newsletter, in the hopes that we can start a conversation among Friends groups about what works and what doesn’t work with their festivals. We are all likely to have some extra time on our hands over the coming weeks, so let’s figure out how to make these events as successful as possible!

If you travel to National Wildlife Refuges or volunteer with a Friends group, it’s likely that you’ve attended or heard of one of the festivals held at refuges each year. From January’s Festival of the Cranes at Wheeler NWR to April’s Harney County Migratory Bird Festival at Malheur NWR to October’s Wings over Water in 6 North Carolina wildlife refuges, there are opportunities across the country to participate in one of these festivals, learn about the refuge, and meet amazing volunteers.

Community engagement around these festivals is an incredible opportunity to build public support for these fabulous urban and rural refuges. With festival attendees of all ages, from schoolchildren to retirees, wildlife refuges wouldn’t “work” without YOUR support.

But, do you know who else needs to know how incredible your refuge is? Your Senators and Member of Congress. And don’t forget their staff!

If you are running a festival this year, send an invitation to your Congressional delegation. When they see how much their constituents care about their local refuge, then they will too. Trust me, there is no better way to show your elected officials the amazing refuge in their district or state than to show them around your Festival and walk a trail with them.

So, find the email or snail mail address of your Congressional office, and send an invitation! We all win when Congress knows that their wildlife refuge is important and that people love these habitats and wildlife.


Articles in the spring edition of The Link*

  • The Magic of Festivals
    The Link reached out to six Friends groups to ask what they do to make their event special and successful.
  • Are you ready to celebrate?
    A quiz, guidelines, and resources for planning a festival on your refuge.
  • Focus on Friends
    Get to know the Friends of Malheur NWR located in SW Oregon
  • Survey
    Provide feedback on The Link and provide suggestions on topics you would like to see covered in future editions. Seriously, these things don’t publish themselves, we want your input.

*Articles are hosted on the NWRA website, just follow any of the article links above to access them all.

Covid-19 and Friends

As concerns about COVID-19 continue to escalate, we as members of the Friends community supporting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sites need to think about how we can protect our health and well-being as well as that of volunteers, staff, visitors, and members of our organizations. Our lives and communities are changing so quickly that it’s difficult to know how to proceed, so we would like to start a dialogue and provide some resources.

First, it’s important for us to follow the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our state and local health departments. Please check these sites regularly for guidance and updates.

Remember that, as nonprofits, we have a legal ‘duty of care.’ For those not familiar with this concept, it means your board has the responsibility to act in a reasonable and prudent manner when making decisions. Following the guidance of the CDC and your health departments would constitute a reasonable standard of care as you decide whether to move forward, postpone, or cancel your activities and programs. Of course, as your board works on making reasonable decisions, it’s vital to communicate with refuge staff.

Stay in touch with your members and volunteers and inform them of board decisions. Let them know what is happening and if there are ways they can help. Phone calls may be especially effective ways to keep in touch with key members as well as those without email. Don’t know where to start with a written message? Here’s a letter from the Friends of the Wichitas that may offer ideas you can use.

If your board can’t get together to make these decisions, then try a teleconference or virtual meeting. If this would be something new for your group, then check out Jonathan Poisner’s recent post in the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA) Facebook group for tips about conducting successful “virtual” meetings.

CORFA’s Facebook group is a place for Friends to share ideas and stay in touch. If you’re not a member, you are welcome to join! Besides offering postings on subjects important to Friends and advocates nationwide, every Wednesday the site features a posting, by Linda Kilgore, with information about webinars that can help you build a stronger organization. Some of these webinars cover subjects related to COVID-19; for example, legal and insurance issues and guidelines for conducting remote meetings.

Or perhaps your group is one of the many cancelling, postponing, or altering the format of an outreach or fundraising event. If so, you may want to take advantage of a free or low-cost webinar offered by one of the consulting groups supporting nonprofits to weather the current situation. Check the CORFA page for options.

This is a time for us to be creative as we continue to work on supporting our organizations, refuges, and communities, and the CORFA Facebook group is a place for us to brainstorm and share resources. Please check the site regularly for new ideas and resources.

Stay healthy and let’s stay connected!

Regards,
Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates

Photo credit: Greg Kramos/USFWS