Friends, Boost Your Year-End Fundraising

  • Post category:Funding
  • Reading time:3 mins read
Virginia Creeper

Did you know that one-third of annual giving occurs in December? And 12% happens the last three days of the year? It’s almost time for the annual giving season which drives billions of dollars for the nonprofit sector. Now is the time to start planning your end-of-the-year campaign! This webinar was hosted by Courtney Phelan, the National Wildlife Refuge Association’s Director of Development. With over a decade of nonprofit fundraising experience.

The webinar covered:

  • Three steps to start your campaign
  • Who do we solicit?
  • How to write a good appeal
  • Tools
  • What is Giving Tuesday?
  • Thanking donors
  • Goals and metrics

Below are links to the recording and other materials from the webinar:

A huge thank you to Courtney Phelan, for this presentation.

Continue ReadingFriends, Boost Your Year-End Fundraising

The Link — Fall 2022 Newsletter

  • Post category:News
  • Reading time:9 mins read

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 And please add 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 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

Continue ReadingThe Link — Fall 2022 Newsletter

Can Friends Groups Advocate and Even Lobby?

  • Post category:Advocacy
  • Reading time:2 mins read
Photo with Senator Merkley (OR)

Occasionally Friends groups will here that they cannot lobby, but that is not true. The U.S. Congress and IRS say that it’s legal for nonprofits to lobby as long as it’s not a substantial portion of your activities. In 1976 Congress established clear guidance on how much a 501(c)(3) can expend on lobbying activities. Learn how to measure your lobbying activities using the expenditure test.

Since refuge and hatchery employees are paid with government funds, they are not allowed to lobby, or seek to directly influence specific legislation that effects refuges or hatcheries. However, Friends groups have the right, and arguably even the obligation, to lobby on behalf of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the Hatchery System and their own personal national wildlife refuge or hatchery. Just remember not to lobby while at a Service-managed site (like your refuge or hatchery).

Photo: National Wildlife Refuge Association Former Board Members Chad Brown (left) and service dog Axe and Cheryl Hart (right) with Senator Merkley (OR)

Continue ReadingCan Friends Groups Advocate and Even Lobby?

September Photo Contest Winner

Jim Osborn with Friends of Crab Orchard NWR in Illinois is the winner of the September photo contest. Jim has a passion for photography and leads the Friends photography club in addition to serving on the board. Congratulations Jim!

Thanks for submitting photos of the first live Volunteer Appreciation Event at Crab Orchard NWR since COVID began. It looks like everyone had a great time! The refuge staff presented numerous awards to volunteers in appreciation for the thousands of hours that they donated to the refuge. Janie Pettigrew was named Volunteer of the Year.

The Friends of Crab Orchard Refuge are dedicated to working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the community to enhance use of the Refuge for wildlife conservation, recreation, agriculture and industry. The group was established in 2000 and has built a force of approximately 100 regular volunteers. The activities they support include:

  • Facilitating eagle tours
  • Assisting with interpretive programs
  • Installing a pollinator habitat
  • Enhancing refuge services including public use facilities
  • Sponsoring youth hunting and fishing days
  • Transporting students to the refuge
  • Conducting annual photo contest
  • Operating the Woodland Gift Shop

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge (CONWR) was established on August 5, 1947 and is located in southwestern Illinois near Marion. CONWR is somewhat unique among wildlife refuges in that it is actually a vacation destination for many. The Refuge has four campgrounds, boating and fishing on three lakes, and welcomes hunters, naturalists, birders, hikers and photographers.

The refuge is made up of 44,000 acres of land that centers around Crab Orchard Lake. It has a great diversity of flora and fauna. The major habitats on the refuge include oak hickory upland forest, bottomland hardwood forest, cropland, grazing units, brushland, prairie, wetlands and lakes. The refuge also includes a 4,050 acre congressionally designated wilderness area.

Congratulation Jim!

Continue ReadingSeptember Photo Contest Winner

NWRA’s Quarterly Chat with Refuge Friends

  • Post category:Funding
  • Reading time:3 mins read

On Wednesday, September 28th, Libby Marking, Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for the National Wildlife Refuge Association, and Caroline Brouwer, Government Affairs Consultant, provided a legislative and regulatory update on recent issues impacting the National Wildlife Refuge System, including the appropriations process and the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act.

orange wild flowers

We thank Libby and Caroline for the update and the following materials:

For National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 9th-15th, NWRA is providing a toolkit to uplift what makes refuges special for wildlife and your community. NWRA will also be sending a toolkit to help you reach out to your Members of Congress and report back to the National Wildlife Refuge Association about your engagement with them. If you are not on NWRA’s mailing list, sign up now!

Thanks everyone for you support of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Continue ReadingNWRA’s Quarterly Chat with Refuge Friends