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

Here in Central Minnesota, when goldenrod is abuzz with pollinators and school supplies fill the shelves of big-box stores, we know that back-to-school time is nigh. Unfortunately, at the same time in some years—like this one—names like Katrina, Maria, and Ian monopolize the news, and photos of their devastation give us pause. Our hearts go out to our Friends/friends in Florida and the Southeast as their lives, homes, and refuges deal with what the hurricane has left behind. Our thoughts are with you.

Since environmental education is one of the Big Six public uses of national wildlife refuges, we have decided to focus our fall issue on education and how some of our Friends are supporting it at their refuges. Here at Sherburne NWR, over the past 12 years, we have been fortunate to work with staff at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center (PWLC), part of the Fergus Falls Wetland Management District, to develop a nature education program to meet our needs. The PWLC was the logical go-to resource, not just because of its proximity, but because of the exceptional hands-on learning options they offer, supported by the Friends of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center.

The PWLC offers a standards-based curriculum geared to the season through a variety of programs for preschool and K-12 students as well as multi-day and overnight visits for 5th graders and older. This is impressive by itself. However, what makes the PWLC special is their Prairie Science Class, “an award-winning, internationally recognized partnership with Fergus Falls Public Schools.” This partnership uses “the local prairie wetlands ecosystem as an integrating and motivating context to engage 4th and 5th-grade students in science, language arts, critical thinking, problem-solving, and writing through real world, field-based learning experiences.” In short, the same 200 4th and 5th-grade students spend half of each school day for a full school year at the PWLC, where four district teachers have their own classrooms plus the 330-acre outdoor classroom for providing hands-on learning for their students.

At Sherburne, we have incorporated the principles of the PWLC Compass to Nature method into our approach and have developed our own standards-based curriculum for our work with our partner schools. Further, our education volunteers and some of our partner-school teachers have participated in the excellent Teaching in the Outdoor Classroom Workshop at the PWLC. We are grateful to the staff of the PWLC (past and present) as well as to the PWLC Friends for providing and supporting this valuable program. The Friends’ support has been essential—whether handling registrations for the outdoor classroom workshop, providing essential funding for the naturalist who manages the PWLC greenhouse, or rewarding Prairie Science Class students with ice cream on the last day of school. Hats off to the staff and Friends at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center!

Our Fall Features Include:

Read All Of The Stories!

Sue Hix, Editor
Friends of Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. MN


The Fall 2022 version of The Link has been a coordinated effort between the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Coalition of Refuge Friends & Advocates. 

To receive the next issue of The Link, complete the form at the bottom of this page https://www.refugeassociation.org/friends. And please add refugeassociation.org to the safe list for your email account.

You’re invited to join the CORFA Facebook group, a place to connect with other amazing members of the Friends community to share information, insights, and experiences concerning nonprofit governance, management, and advocacy. Go to  https://www.facebook.com/groups/coalitionofrefugefriends/ and request to join this private group.

  • Sue Hix (Editor) – Friends of Sherburne NWR
  • Joan Patterson (Co-editor)—Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates 
  • Libby Marking—NWRA Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy
  • Eden Taylor (designer)— NWRA Communications Associate 
  • Friends Editorial Staff:
    • Cheryl Hart—NWRA Board, Board member of Friends of Tualatin River NWR 
    • Kathy Woodward—Former NWRA Board Member, Board member of Friends of Great Swamp NWR 
    • Jim Stone– NWRA Board, Board member of Friends of the Wichitas