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

August Photo Contest Winner

Monarchs feeding on nectar plant

Karen Blakely Van Dyk shared beautiful images of monarchs and monarch caterpillars at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge.

River National Wildlife Refuge was established to conserve and enhance populations of wildlife and their habitats, to protect and enhance water quality, and to provide opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation and research. The refuge conserves the biological diversity of the Wallkill Valley by protecting and managing land, with a special emphasis on forest-dwelling and grassland birds, migrating waterfowl, wintering raptors, and endangered species. The North American Waterfowl Management Plan identifies the Wallkill River bottomlands as a priority focus area for waterfowl management within New Jersey.

Friends of Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge was founded in 2006 to support the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Refuge. Volunteers manage the activities of the Friends group and work in concert with Refuge staff to protect the environment and promote public awareness.

The Friends’ mission is to support the refuge through

  • Environmental stewardship
  • Educational and recreational opportunities for the public
  • Habitat management and enhancement
  • Land acquisition

Wallkill River NWR headquarters is in Sussex, New Jersey and part of the Lenape NWR Complex. The refuge encompasses over 6,000 acres of the Wallkill Valley, which used to be farmland and sod fields. Just 7 miles north of headquarters is the popular Liberty Loop Trail, which is a favorite spot for wildlife observation and photography. A portion of the trail is part of the Appalachian Trail and like the Winding Waters Trail are located in New York. In addition to these two walking trails there are numerous trail along the Wallkill River in New Jersey. You can also fish or kayak on Owens Pond or the Wallkill River. Visitors can also take an archery course or attend one of the many events held at the Refuge.

The Refuge has a variety of wildlife from amphibians to large mammals and is also a stopover for many migrating birds, including an occasional rare one.

Congratulations, Karen!

Photo credits:
Monarchs on liatris at Wallkill NWR by Karen VanDyk
Monarch caterpillar starting to crystallize by Kaen VanDyk

Continue ReadingAugust Photo Contest Winner

July Photo Contest Winner

Copperhead at the Big Branch Marsh NWR, in Lacombe, LA by Sue Wilder

The July Photo Contest theme was “Reptiles & Amphibians”. Friends members shared photos of these cold-blooded creatures in honor of World Snake Day. Sue Wilder with the Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges, Inc. submitted the winning photos of a copperhead taken while she was collecting data for the Gulf Coast Phenology Trail at the Big Branch Marsh NWR, in Lacombe, LA.

Big Branch Marsh NWR is one of nine refuges in the Southeast Louisiana Refuge Complex. Our Friends group, Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges, Inc. seeks to support our wildlife refuges. From staffing educational events to planting wetland plants towards restoration efforts, our Friends group is there. We have a small but mighty group of volunteers and members who love to support all things refuges.

The principal purpose of our Friends organization is to engage in promoting better awareness, appreciation, and conservation of the natural environment of the Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex: to promote programs and services that will enhance the quality of the refuges, and to work with other agencies and organizations to raise funds and direct resources towards visitor services, educational, interpretative, and environmental projects which, without assistance, would not be accomplished solely through the efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2021, we celebrated our 25-year anniversary.

Some of our well known events on the refuge include the Bayou Gardens Open House in the spring, our Youth Fishing Rodeo Event in early Summer and our most popular, our Wild Things Celebration in the fall. With recent Covid-19 restrictions our activities have been limited for the last two years we were able to help support “Boo on the Bayou”, a driving tour of not-so-scary wildlife stations (Bats, Owls, Snakes, Alligators, and Spiders – oh my) to educate children (and adults) about wildlife conservation while keeping socially distant. We look forward to the days when we can open our doors fully

Congratulations, Sue!

Copperhead at the Big Branch Marsh NWR, in Lacombe, LA by Sue Wilder

Photo credits: Sue Wilder with the Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges, Inc.

Continue ReadingJuly Photo Contest Winner


  • Post category:Advocacy
  • Reading time:2 mins read

Deadline to Submit Written Testimony is March 10, 2022

According to NWRA it is very important that we show the committee how much Friends Groups and members care about funding for the Refuge System. All of you have refuges that are understaffed and under maintained and desperately in need of funding. It is critical that we get a huge increase for the Refuge System this year. This is why we are asking for $712 million for the next fiscal year.

For more information and instructions on submitting your testimony go to the National Wildlife Refuge Association,

This is also the time for hatchery groups to submit testimony.


NEW FOR 2022 CORFA Photo Contest

2022 CORFA photo contest with monthly themes

At the end of 2021, CORFA asked Friends to post photos of your Refuge/Hatchery, with the opportunity to have your Refuge/Hatchery spotlighted. So many amazing images were posted in the private CORFA Facebook group. To continue this way to learn more about Refuge/Hatcheries and the Friends organizations supporting them, the contest is being continued this year with a little twist. Each month will have a theme and at the end of the month, the two photos with the most likes will be featured by the National Wildlife Refuge Association to have everyone vote on the winning photograph.

To entry the contest you must be a members of a Friends organization supporting a national wildlife refuge or hatchery. To submit an entry you need to be a member of the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates Facebook group. Please note that this Facebook group is only for members of the refuge/hatcheries Friends groups. Photos are to be posted in the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates Facebook group. When you post your photos – please include a short description, that it is for the contest and the name & location of your Refuge.

Download the list of monthly themes and ideas.

So, get your camera out, be creative and have fun!!

Continue ReadingNEW FOR 2022 CORFA Photo Contest