activities or programs related to the Big 6 uses: hunting, fishing, environmental education, wildlife observation, interpretation, and photography

Do You Know about the National Fish Hatchery System?

people fishing at a pier

Welcome to the National Fish Hatchery System
presented on May 23, 2024

Nathan Wilke, Branch Manager for the National Fish Hatchery System and Applied Sciences Division presented an overview of the National Hatchery System including:

  • Fish and Aquatic Conservation and the National Fish Hatchery System
  • How they work
  • What they do
  • The national team
  • Working with Friends 

We also thank Karen Holzer, Executive Director of the Booth Society, Inc. for an update on the National Fish Hatchery Museum.

Webinar materials:

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Our Friends in DC: Updates on Government Affairs from the National Wildlife Refuge Association

Webinar held on Wednesday, March 20th

Libby Marking, Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy for the National Wildlife Refuge Association, provided an update on the latest issues impacting the National Wildlife Refuge System in Congress. Topics included federal appropriations, the newly reconstituted Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus, coalition efforts with national partners to advance legislative priorities for the Refuge System, and how Refuge Friends can get involved.


Libby Marking serves as the Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy for the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Prior to joining the Refuge Association, Libby was the Senior Manager for Government Affairs at the National Audubon Society, leading advocacy efforts on Alaska public lands and Greater Sage-Grouse conservation. She came to Audubon from Capitol Hill, where she most recently served as a Legislative Assistant to former Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and earlier in her career, was a Research Assistant to former Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota. While on the Hill, she specialized in Indigenous policy. Libby also served as a political appointee at the Department of the Interior, both as an Advisor to the Deputy Secretary and as a Special Assistant to the Secretary. In these roles, she helped push forward initiatives for public lands and Indigenous issues. Libby Hails from the Black Hills of South Dakota and earned her BA in Global Studies and French from South Dakota State University.

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Internships: Insights to Providing Meaningful Refuge & Friends Group Support

Internships provide rewarding environmental service opportunities for young adults and emerging professionals of all backgrounds to explore and improve public lands while gaining practical professional experience. American Conservation Experience (ACE) is a non-profit organization that, in 2023 supported over 250 interns with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), primarily at national wildlife refuges, but also with several Friends groups as well.

This webinar provided an overview of:

  • Considerations for hiring interns including liability, pay and benefits, etc.,
  • Examples of current projects with Friends and refuges,
  • How a partnership with ACE might work.

The materials from the webinar are now available:


  • Ellen Bley (she/her/hers) is the Division Director of the ACE USFWS Division. She provides oversight for individual placements that work with the USFWS at refuges, hatcheries, and regional offices. She supports a team of member managers and support staff who work with partners to ensure each ACE member has a successful experience. She has worked with ACE for over 6 years, starting as a Natural Resource Inventory Intern in 2017. She has since worked on various projects with ACE and USFWS, and has seen the ACE USFWS grow substantially since its inception. Ellen is based in Salt Lake City, UT.
  • Jenn Layman (she/her/hers) is the National Director of EPIC Programs for ACE. She supports ACE’s three individual placement divisions, including the EPIC U.S. Fish and Wildlife Division. She has worked with ACE for nearly two years and has been in the Conservation Corps world for more than 10. Jenn is based in Pittsburgh, PA.
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You Just Never Know…

Successful Friends organizations consider community connections important to their success. Friends invite community members to events at the refuge or hatchery, participate in community expos and fairs, promote their site and organization in social media posts, and send newsletters—both via email and the US mail—to keep supporters informed. Of course, Friends expect results when they send out fundraising pleas, but otherwise Friends may wonder whether these other outreach activities are worth the effort involved. Sometimes, though, the benefits of those extra efforts become wonderfully clear.

The fall 2022 edition of The Link, the e-newsletter published for Friends by CORFA and the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA), featured a story about the Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Portland, OR. This story highlighted the relationship that has developed with the Tualatin Friends, the refuge, and Greenway Elementary, a nearby Title 1 school. What began as a way to supply nature-related educational materials to an underserved school has blossomed into a full-scale, in-depth environmental education program. The story included highlights and photos about the “Change Maker” projects in which students learn what they can do personally to advocate for the environment.

Several weeks after the story appeared, the Friends were contacted by a woman who lives in Seattle. Each year she and her sister help their mother select two nonprofits to receive a $2,500 grant. She stated that she had read in The Link article about the work the Friends do with Greenway School and asked for additional information about the program, as well as a list of other projects that they could assist with financially. Her family really connected with the idea of encouraging the next generation to be advocates for conservation and selected the Tualatin Friends to be the recipients of one of this year’s grants.

The e-news article connected the Tualatin Friends with this family—the connection may never have happened otherwise. Now the grant will make a difference in the lives of the Greenway students, plus it is truly a feel-good moment for all of the Friends!

Sounds like including outreach activities in your Friends New Year’s resolutions would be a good – and profitable – idea!

For examples of other educational programs conducted by Friends check out the 2022 fall edition of The Link.

Article by Sue Hix, Friends of Sherburne NWR

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