Survey about Webinars: What Else You Shared!

CORFA logo with a wordcloud

This is the third and final blog on what we learned from our recent survey about webinar topics. Thank you to the 88 people who responded to the survey and for all your thoughtful comments. CORFA is all about Friends helping Friends so if you see a topic listed that you or your Friends group has some experience and expertise with, please let us know at coalitionrefugefriends@gmail.com, we’d love your help.

The graphic above depicts some of the most common topics that Friends mentioned in the tell us more section of the survey. These topics are listed in order of the number of times they were mentioned. What we hear is the Friends are looking for information on:

  • Fundraising with specific requests for training on capital campaigns and bequests as well as virtual fundraising.
  • Board and Volunteer recruitment along with community outreach. The survey tells us that we have work to do to build the boards and organizations that represent our communities and reach out to all members of those communities and welcome them to our refuges/hatcheries.
  • Strengthening partnerships with the refuge was mentioned several times. One goal of our webinars is to provide opportunities to learn more about our partners’ program, don’t forget there are other resources as well. The FWS Friends Mentoring program is targeted at strengthening partnerships. The next round of applications for Mentoring is expected right after Labor Day and we will be doing a webinar on mentoring and the application process closer to that date.
  • Finance, earlier this year two webinars were presented. You can access the recordings of those and all the webinars we’ve presented in the Resource Center tab on this website.
  • Stores, online stores, and inventory were also mentioned. Are you aware that CORFA has a Facebook group for retail that is very responsive to questions. We have also talked about starting some informal discussion groups one of which could center around topics related to stores. We’re looking for volunteers to help with this effort.
  • Collaboration with other Friends groups, we don’t get together often enough at the regional or national level. We are cooking up some ideas for Friends gatherings—probably virtual for now.
  • And finally what time of day should the webinars be offered? People who work during the day are not able to attend live. We are at a loss as to when we could present the webinars so that everyone who wants to participate live, can do that. Our refuge and hatcheries Friends groups span 9 time zones and the International Dateline. If you have suggestions, let us know.

While we try to provide a wide range of training specific to Friends groups, again, we are not the only resource. Someone asked for training on wildlife and environment. Someone else was concerned about hunting on refuges. That is not in our wheelhouse but there are many workshops and trainings available through FWS’s National Conservation Training Center, most of which can be paid for by FWS scholarships. Talk to your Regional Friends Coordinator about training in the topics you are interested in.

We are searching for Friends groups with expertise in all of these topics. If you are interested in sharing your experiences and expertise please contact us at coalitionrefugefriends@gmail.com.

You gave us so much valuable information and we are trying to make good use of it to provide you with the training you want and need. Thank you!

Be sure to join the CORFA Facebook group and NWRA Friends contacts (E-Newsletter and Advocacy and Webinar invitations)

Continue ReadingSurvey about Webinars: What Else You Shared!

The Link — Winter 2021 Newsletter

  • Post category:News
  • Reading time:5 mins read

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:

The Friends stories included in this edition of The Link are truly inspiring. It is difficult to believe that we are coming up on almost a full year of closed Visitor Centers and canceled events. Yet we have persevered and created communities that perhaps would have remained unfound without the trials of Zoom and social distancing. Many national wildlife refuges have seen visitor numbers skyrocket, with folks desperate to escape the mundanity of their homes.

Yet we cannot forget the many Americans who have been sickened or killed by this virus. I hope that your local refuge has been a place of peace for you during this time. 

At the National Wildlife Refuge Association, we have spent the last year working hard to maintain the integrity of the National Wildlife Refuge System and defending the incredible gains made over the life of the Refuge System. Now, as we march forward into the Biden Administration, we anticipate increased protections for vulnerable national wildlife refuges and expansion of land and ocean refuge units. And of course, we will fight tooth and nail to increase funding. We hope to be able to travel to your refuge this year, and to visit with many of you in person! 

Thank you for all that you do for the Refuge System, and for all your advocacy on behalf of your local refuge and the entire National Wildlfie Refuge System!

Sincerely,
Caroline Brouwer
Vice President of Government Affairs
National Wildlife Refuge Association


Friends, Your Comments Are Needed! 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is in the process of updating the Friends policy including the Friends Partnership Agreement.

Friends, as the key partner of USFWS, your input is now needed on the second draft of the Friends policy. The policy will impact your organization therefore your comments are vital. USFWS has provided the “clean” second draft of the policy and a redline version that shows the changes to the policy that was released in 2014. 

All of these documents are on the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA) Google drive and website. Please review them.

To help USFWS with the collection and review of your comments they are providing a form for you to submit comments. To ensure that USFWS will see every comment they request that you fill out a separate form for each comment.

The deadline for comments is Monday, February 8, 2021

Please provide USFWS with your comments on the policy and Agreement because they will help shape the partnership between the Friends and USFWS.


Refuge Friends Stories From Across The Country

Had anyone asked us in late 2019 about our plans and expectations for the coming year, few of us would have predicted or even been able to imagine what lay ahead. Since COVID-19 emerged early in 2020, we’ve experienced so many disappointments and personal losses that we’ve probably lost count. However, resilient as we must be, we have mourned, adjusted, rearranged, postponed, canceled, pondered, and reimagined—likely several times. The same can be said of refuge and hatchery Friends as they changed course during the year to stay positive, stay afloat, and succeed despite facing challenges as novel as the virus itself. This issue is dedicated to celebrating those many Friends who support refuges and hatcheries nationwide. We hope you’ll enjoy and even be inspired by the following stories shared by some of them. Here’s to health, happiness, and success to you all in 2021!

-Sue Hix, Editor

Read Refuge Friends’ Stories!*

The Winter 2021 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 
  • Caroline Brouwer—NWRA VP of Government Affairs 
  • 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

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

Continue ReadingThe Link — Winter 2021 Newsletter

Submit Comments on Federal Register Notice

  • Post category:USFWS Policies
  • Reading time:3 mins read
owl

Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA) and the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) urge Friends to respond to the notice in the Federal Register about collecting documentation from their organizations. Friends input is necessary to guide the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in the collection of information in support of our mutual goals and objectives. They may also influence revisions to the Friends policy and Friends Partnership Agreement (FPA).

These revisions would be the result of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit report of the USFWS Friends program. A finding of the OIG implies that FWS does not know if Friends are using donations appropriately. FWS agreed to take corrective actions to improve oversight of the program. These actions will include revising the policy and FPA to:

  • Establish accountability with respect to donations, revenues, and expenditures to ensure they benefit the applicable refuge or hatchery;
  • Require Friends to provide an annual performance report including donations, revenues, and expenditures, and
  • Periodically review the FPA and evidence of nonprofit status.

The revisions to the policies and FPA have the potential of impacting Friends organization’s practices and procedures.

Please review the notice in the Federal Register and craft comments that:

  • Reflect your understanding of the documentation FWS is requesting,
  • List documentation Friends can provide FWS to assure them that funds raised for the benefit of your site are being properly accounted for,
  • Indicate how Friends would document the value to your refuge/hatchery of your programs and activities,
  • Assess the accuracy of FWS’ estimate of the time it will take to collect the documentation,
  • Describe ways to enhance the quality of the information, and
  • Suggest how to minimize the burden of providing the information.

The CORFA and NWRA have drafted comments to submit and Friends are welcome to review and borrow them. We do, however, want any comments submitted by Friends groups and members to be unique and particular to your specific refuge or hatchery—comments submitted through Federal Register requests are ore highly ranked if they are not the same as the other comments.

The deadline to comment is January 8, 2021.

Reference OMB Control Number “1018-Friends” in the subject line of your comments. The easiest and most direct way to submit your comments is to email comments directly to: Info_Coll@fws.gov

You can also mail your comments to the Service Information Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB (JAO/3W), 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803 (mail)

*There is a direct link to submit comments in the Federal Register announcement, but this link does NOT work.*

We urge Friends groups and members of their board to submit comments. Every Friends group, FWS site, and partnership in the Friends community is unique. Your comments need to represent your unique circumstance. FWS wants to hear from you!

Regards,
Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates
National Wildlife Refuge Association

P.S. Should you need any assistance contact Caroline Brouwer, NWRA, or Joan Patterson, CORFA. If you want to share your comments with the Friends community, please send them to Joan and they will be posted on the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates website.

Comments Submitted by Friends:
Willem Stoeller, TRNWR






Continue ReadingSubmit Comments on Federal Register Notice