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 Reading The Link — Winter 2021 Newsletter

The Link — Fall 2020 Newsletter

  • Post category:News
  • Reading time:3 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:

As you are reading this, refuge staff are wrapping up their work under the current fiscal year (FY 2020) and beginning to implement their plans for this next year of work (FY 2021). Most visitor centers remain closed due to COVID-19, yet visitors are flocking to refuges to recreate, bird watch, hunt waterfowl, and get outside. Last year, over 59 million people visited wildlife refuges, and I’m sure that number is up dramatically due to the lockdowns.

Here in Washington, DC, Congress will be in recess the entire month of October to campaign in their states and districts before the election on November 3. Not only is this year a presidential election, but all members of Congress are on the ballot and 33 Senators are up for re-election. Please remember to get out and vote either by absentee/mail-in ballot or in person!

This year has seen some enormous successes for wildlife refuges. With your help, and the help of many partners, we got the Great American Outdoors Act passed. This act provides full and dedicated funding for land acquisition through the Land and Water Conservation Fund plus Refuge System backlog funding of $475 million over 5 years. This bill is one of the greatest conservation accomplishments in many years, and we appreciate all your help in getting it across the finish line!

Refuge Friends continue to be a critical part of the work we do. Last year, 56 Friends groups donated to the Refuge Association. As you know, a nonprofit is constantly fundraising, so we appreciate your support! We held our first quarterly Friends call on September 16 and are planning our second call in December 2020. Stayed tuned for a date and time! In February, we will be asking Friends groups to submit testimony to Congress on the state of their refuge—we need all of your voices to be heard!

I hope everyone is enjoying the fall weather!


Articles in the fall edition of The Link*

A Budget – All Friends Should Have One
Budget—it’s not always a favorite task but is one that Friends boards are responsible to undertake on a regular basis. Creating a budget and regularly reviewing it allows members, donors, prospects, and grant-makers to review your strategic priorities and gauge the health of your organization.

So You’ll Be Meeting with a Donor
Regardless of your Friends organization’s fiscal year-end, you will likely want to solicit donations as 2020 draws to a close. Why focus on year-end campaigns?

Creative Fundraising – Virtual and Otherwise
Successful organizations, including refuge Friends, must be nimble and able to pivot should circumstances require them to adjust to new or unexpected circumstances. We are pleased to share some ideas that are allowing Friends to continue raising funds, pay their bills, and support refuge projects as the pandemic continues.

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

Continue Reading The Link — Fall 2020 Newsletter

The Link — Summer 2020 Newsletter

  • Post category:News
  • Reading time:2 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:

As COVID-19 continues to restrict normal warm-season activities, we know that Friends organizations across the country are redirecting their energy to find new ways to support their refuges and fish hatcheries. Spring events have gone virtual, nature store managers are trying online sales for the first time, and boards and volunteers are using Zoom and other online tools to connect, plan, and complete work safely “from a distance.”

Here at the Refuge Association, we want to invite Friends who can’t pursue their usual on-site volunteer activities to direct efforts to advocacy—whether this be by contacting their legislators about issues affecting the Refuge System or by taking time to develop their advocacy knowledge and skills. With this in mind, we will be offering a summer webinar series about communicating with Congress members, focused on their district and state offices. We’re also planning quarterly calls to keep you up to date on important issues here in DC. Our first call will be in September. And of course, our Action Alerts and letter “sign-on” requests will continue when your virtual voices are needed to support actions that will fund and protect refuges.

We hope you’ll enjoy this issue, which focuses on examples of Friends who have been making the best of these pandemic days to continue their work in creative ways.


Articles in the summer edition of The Link*

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

Continue Reading The Link — Summer 2020 Newsletter

The Link — Spring 2020 Newsletter

  • Post category:News
  • Reading time:3 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:

We have been so excited to focus our Spring 2020 The Link on the amazing festivals that Friends groups hold across the country. With the current outbreak of coronavirus across the country, we understand that many festivals this spring will likely be canceled to protect the public. We are, however, still sending out this newsletter, in the hopes that we can start a conversation among Friends groups about what works and what doesn’t work with their festivals. We are all likely to have some extra time on our hands over the coming weeks, so let’s figure out how to make these events as successful as possible!

If you travel to National Wildlife Refuges or volunteer with a Friends group, it’s likely that you’ve attended or heard of one of the festivals held at refuges each year. From January’s Festival of the Cranes at Wheeler NWR to April’s Harney County Migratory Bird Festival at Malheur NWR to October’s Wings over Water in 6 North Carolina wildlife refuges, there are opportunities across the country to participate in one of these festivals, learn about the refuge, and meet amazing volunteers.

Community engagement around these festivals is an incredible opportunity to build public support for these fabulous urban and rural refuges. With festival attendees of all ages, from schoolchildren to retirees, wildlife refuges wouldn’t “work” without YOUR support.

But, do you know who else needs to know how incredible your refuge is? Your Senators and Member of Congress. And don’t forget their staff!

If you are running a festival this year, send an invitation to your Congressional delegation. When they see how much their constituents care about their local refuge, then they will too. Trust me, there is no better way to show your elected officials the amazing refuge in their district or state than to show them around your Festival and walk a trail with them.

So, find the email or snail mail address of your Congressional office, and send an invitation! We all win when Congress knows that their wildlife refuge is important and that people love these habitats and wildlife.


Articles in the spring edition of The Link*

  • The Magic of Festivals
    The Link reached out to six Friends groups to ask what they do to make their event special and successful.
  • Are you ready to celebrate?
    A quiz, guidelines, and resources for planning a festival on your refuge.
  • Focus on Friends
    Get to know the Friends of Malheur NWR located in SW Oregon
  • Survey
    Provide feedback on The Link and provide suggestions on topics you would like to see covered in future editions. Seriously, these things don’t publish themselves, we want your input.

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

Continue Reading The Link — Spring 2020 Newsletter

News from The Link: Fall 2019

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

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

Welcome to the second edition of The Link! This newsletter was written by Friends, for Friends, in collaboration with the Refuge Association and the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA).

In this edition we focus on advocacy, a topic that creates confusion. Read how Friends are speaking up for their mission and in the process educating their lawmakers. The Friends of Tennessee share their advocacy efforts and accomplishments.

We want to hear from you! Take the short survey and let us know how we can be a valuable resource for you.

We hope that you enjoy The Link.

Articles in the fall edition of The Link

  • Friends as Advocates
    5 great ideas to engage your legislators
  • Speaking Up for Your Mission
    All about advocacy and lobbying. Do you know what your nonprofit can do?
  • Focus on Friends: Tennessee NWR
    Get to know this Friends Group of the Year (FGY), set your sights on being the next FGY!
  • Survey
    Got something you’d like to see covered in future issues of The Link? What questions would you like answered? Would you like your Friends group featured in a future issue? Share your thoughts and questions in the survey.
Continue Reading News from The Link: Fall 2019