The Link is a quarterly newsletter produced in coordination between Friends, the National Wildlife Refuge Association and Coalition of Refuge Friends & Advocates.
It’s no secret that our refuges and hatcheries are underfunded and therefore understaffed. Sure, some overall budget increases have been approved recently, but by the time you account for inflation, much-deserved staff pay increases, and special projects for which Congress has designated funding, there’s not enough left to keep our refuges and hatcheries adequately staffed at the local level. At the least, Friends and volunteers may be feeling confused or frustrated; at the worst, they may be angry, desperate, or even disheartened.
So what’s a Friends organization to do? Well, advocate, of course! And this means advocating with decision-makers beyond those associated with our partners in the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This issue of The Link features stories of Friends who have worked to invite community members to their sites, not only to be more inclusive but also to gain fans and—ideally—more supporters and vocal advocates. You’ll see that perseverance is key, as is the ongoing effort to cultivate relationships with Members of Congress (MOCs) and their staff members.
Our Friends organization at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (MN) has been cultivating relationships with our Representatives and Senators since before I joined the group almost 25 years ago; all of them have visited many times over the years, and we’ve even gotten acquainted with their local staff members. It’s not unusual for newly elected MOCs to contact the refuge about coming for a tour. The Friends are always invited to join in, and then we start the process of building relationships.
This doesn’t mean that dollars are on the way. However, several years ago a letter to our Regional Director, from a Representative known for condemning earmarks, is said to have influenced the Service to choose to allocate limited funding our way. We now have a Learning Center with a classroom, if not the entire Visitor Center that we have been advocating for, but this still counts as a big win.
Things are different now in 2023. Our needs at Sherburne are more basic—specifically, a visitor services staff member to support, among many other things, the work that volunteers and Friends do for the refuge. We aren’t giving up, though, and I hope you won’t, either.
Please read on for more news and views!
- New Year’s Resolution: Share Your Resources with New Friends and Board Members!
- Relationships Help Determine Federal Priorities – Joan Patterson, Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA), and Ken Kupchak, Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR (HI)
- Sharing Our Stories – Sue Wilder, Member of the CORFA Board
- Still Working, Still Hoping – Ann Bloxom Smith, Friends of Black Bayou Lake NWR (LA)
- How Important Is Advocacy for Your Refuge? – Richard Dolesh, Friends of Patuxent Research Refuge (MD)
- Engaging the Community: Important First Step in Advocacy – Katherine Kramer, Friends of the Front Range Wildlife Refuges (CO)
- Winning Photos for CORFA’s December Photo Contest – Peg Hall, Friends of Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys Refuges (FL)
- NWRA and Friends: Partners in Advocacy – Libby Marking, Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy, National Wildlife Refuge Association
- Previews of Coming Webinars – Cheryl Hart, CORFA Board, and Friends of Tualatin River NWR (OR)
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