The Link — Spring 2021 Newsletter
Sherburne NWR

The Link — Spring 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.

The other day a fellow Friends member asked why we have both CORFA and NWRA. Well, the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA) and the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) are partners who have different but complementary purposes. 

CORFA began in 2013 as a Facebook group set up by a Friend to help Friends stay connected and share information during a Federal government shutdown. This grassroots effort evolved into a space for Friends to help Friends and ultimately the public lands and waters we support. This is an all-volunteer effort that has grown to almost 800 folks willing to ask for and give each other help. 

CORFA’s purpose is to foster a network of nonprofit organizations supporting the National Wildlife Refuge System and the National Fish Hatchery System with the goals of:

  • Promoting and creating ways for Friends to share their knowledge so their groups can be stronger organizations.
  • Supporting collaborative efforts between Friends, US Fish and Wildlife Service, NWRA, and others. 
  • Expanding our ability to advocate for the needs of our organizations and public lands partners.

NWRA is the leading voice advocating on behalf of the National Wildlife Refuge System with the vision of inspiring nationwide support for the National Wildlife Refuge System, its wildlife, and habitats. Friends, you are the major portion of that nationwide support. Your willingness to stand up and share your knowledge and stories about your refuges or hatcheries is the best tool for motivating others to protect these places. 

NWRA, CORFA, and Friends make a great team. CORFA’s focus is the Friends community, the groups that are instrumental in making the Service sites community assets. NWRA’s focus is advocating for the National Wildlife Refuge System and inspiring Friends to stand up for their refuge or hatchery. 

Together we work to tap into the strengths of the Friends community so we can effectively protect our wildlife, lands, and waters. Our joint efforts, of which you all are a part, include this quarterly newsletter, The Link; webinars; an evolving Friends website; and speaking out for the needs of your organizations, refuges, and hatcheries. CORFA members volunteer their experiences and time. NWRA provides its expertise and financial support. 

We ask each and every one of you to participate, promote, and give to this effort that connects, strengthens, and celebrates the community of Friends.

Joan Patterson and the CORFA Team
Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates

Caroline Brouwer
National Wildlife Refuge Association

From the Editor

We asked you to tell us how your Friends are connecting with your communities to promote your refuges and hatcheries despite COVID, and you responded! From a mobile classroom to an art walk booth, from a hiking ambassador to hosting the grand opening of a new trail, some Friends were able to connect safely in person—usually outdoors and socially distanced. Others explored the possibilities offered by digital tools—planning online or hybrid events and annual meetings, offering a unique gift to special donors, using technology to meet grant requirements. It will be interesting to see whether and how we continue to incorporate these novel approaches in the future.

Sue Hix, Editor

Please enjoy reading and learning from the stories offered by these Friends!

Read All Of the Stories!


The Spring 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 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 
  • 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 Reading The Link — Spring 2021 Newsletter

The 2021 O’Brien Prize: An Opportunity For Your Refuge Friends Group!

  • Post category:Funding
  • Reading time:2 mins read
Lisa Hupp/USFWS

The National Wildlife Refuge Association has an opportunity for you!! Through the generosity of some of our great Board Members, we are announcing our 2021 O’Brien Prize, an annual award for Refuge Friends groups. The prize is named after Donal O’Brien III, a past Board Chair and longtime enthusiast of the National Wildlife Refuge System.  Don is a generous supporter of the great work we do for national wildlife refuges and is very impressed by the dedication and effectiveness of Refuge Friends groups.

This year we are offering one $2,500 prize. Please see our application. It should be pretty easy and take little time for you to fill it out. Please email the completed form to Caroline Brouwer, or reply to this email by May 5th. We plan to announce the award recipient at the end of May. 

Thank you for everything you do for your Refuge and for the National Wildlife Refuge System. We at the National Wildlife Refuge Association are very proud to call you all our partners and recognize the very important work you all do, every day, every week, and year after year for all national wildlife refuges across the country. 

Thank you,

Geoffrey L. Haskett
President, National Wildlife Refuge Association

Continue Reading The 2021 O’Brien Prize: An Opportunity For Your Refuge Friends Group!

A Little Nudge to Cheer on the 2020 Friends Group

  • Post category:News
  • Reading time:1 mins read

2020 refuge awards for refuge manager, refuge employee, refuge volunteer and Friends group
Photo credit: NWRA

The National Wildlife Refuge Association’s 2020 Refuge Award Dinner is going virtual. Everyone is invited to attend this event on Thursday, October 22 nd, 7 to 8 PM EST. The awards honor the outstanding accomplishments by refuge managers, refuge employees, volunteers, and Friends groups.

This year, the Refuge Association is having a Friends Group competition. The winner will receive:

  • One hour of advocacy consulting from NWRA during a board meeting,
  • One hour of fundraising consulting from NWRA during a board meeting,
  • And one video highlighting your Friends Group!

To learn more about the competition and to register for the event go to

Continue Reading A Little Nudge to Cheer on the 2020 Friends Group

Building the Team

  • Post category:Management
  • Reading time:1 mins read
Friends on Capitol Hill 2016

The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) and Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), to formalize our long-standing partnership. The MOU outlines plans to work together to provide Friends organizations with information and materials they seek to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of their organizations. So what does this mean – we will work together and with you to gather information to help Friends continue to be successful. We’ll work on creating an updated resource center, webinars, a quarterly Friends newsletter, and share information from and for Friends. NWRA is providing its expertise and assisting with the financing of this effort and CORFA is providing their experience and volunteer labor. We are doing this because we believe Friends bring an unmatched level of knowledge, skills, and dedication to the National Wildlife Refuge System, and together we make a formidable team. To support this effort please consider a donation to NWRA and let CORFA know what materials, information, discussions, etc. will help you and your organization.

Continue Reading Building the Team

Stand Up, Speak Out

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

A little over a year ago we woke to the unthinkable, a militia group was occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Fortunately the occupation ended and this week four more defendants go on trial. But the assault on public lands continues.

town-meeting-feature-imageSome members of Congress with extreme views on public lands are proposing more formidable threats in the form of legislation and thankfully the Refuge Association’s Action Alerts keeps us informed. We as Friends need to take action, we need to get in front of your legislators.

I’ve been fortunate to hear from hundreds of Friends members and you all have at least one thing in common – you are passionate about your refuge. I saw this passion in Tim Blount, when as the Executive Director of the Friends of Malheur, went to the Hill last January and spoke to his congressional team and the natural resources and judiciary committees. He demonstrated that his commitment to the refuge went far beyond its boundaries to include the community and the entire Refuge System.

Like Tim we all need to speak up for our refuge, community, and the Refuge System. Next week members of Congress will be in their districts for a week-long recess. Please join in contacting their offices and ask him/her when and where their next town hall forum will be. If they don’t know, ask to be added to their email list so you’ll get notices of future meetings. If you need their phone numbers go to Senate and/or Representative.

Gather a few Friends and go to the town hall forum. We can make a difference. Ask them questions to solicit their support for public lands and in particular for your refuge. We can use the message the Refuge Association sent on February 7th to formulate a question such as:

I and many of your constituents value our public lands and urge you to oppose any legislation that seeks to transfer the title or management of our public lands or legislation that would harm the National Wildlife Refuge System. These lands, like our local ______ National Wildlife Refuge, are incredibly important not just for wildlife, but also for all Americans to whom they belong. Will you commit to voting to keep our public lands public and our Refuge System safe and secure?

Try to get a video of their response and please post your experience on Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates Facebook group. This information will be helpful as we work together to support the Refuge System.

Fellow Friends members please make sure you are receiving the Refuge Association’s Action Alerts and GO to your representatives town hall forum and STAND up for you refuge. Let your representatives and everyone else at the forum know how important these public lands are to you and your community. Thanks.

 Joan Patterson is the former Director of Grassroots Outreach of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and has served on the Friends boards at Tualatin River, Potomac River and the Duck Stamp/Migratory Bird.

Continue Reading Stand Up, Speak Out