Since 1998 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) have actively worked together to develop resource materials, trainings, conferences and workshops to ensure that Friends have the tools and knowledge to support refuges and engage their communities. At the 2011 Conserving the Future Refuge Vision Conference, FWS and NWRA reaffirmed their commitment to Friends by announcing the Friends Initiative, a partnership to share Friends expertise, build the capacity of Friends to fulfill their missions, which will ensure refuges are better able to achieve the Refuge System’s wildlife conservation mission.
This website, Refuge Friends Connect, provides the framework for Friends to share their expertise, find inspiration, connect, share experiences and resources, and learn from the sources that Friends deem valuable. The website gives Friends access to:
- Friends directory,
- Discussion forums,
- Calendar of events, and
- News to share.
Partners in the Friends Initiative
The National Wildlife Refuge System that is managed by FWS is the world’s premier system of public lands set aside for the protection of wildlife, fish and plants. There are more than 555 national wildlife refuges across the country, with at least one in every U.S. state and territory. The refuge system owes its very existence to concerned citizens like Paul Kroegel, a citizen activist determined to save pelican and instrumental in the creation of the first refuge, Pelican Island. Since then Friends organizations have played a crucial role in helping FWS conserve and protect our nation’s wildlife.
National Wildlife Refuge Association works with Friends groups to tackle the challenges facing our national wildlife refuges. NWRA is the only national non-profit 501(c)3 dedicated to protecting the National Wildlife Refuge System. Through training workshops, communications networks and partnerships, and advocacy, NWRA generates support for refuges and vital wildlife habitats at the local and national levels.
Refuge Friends Groups are independent, nonprofit organizations run by citizens that support the purposes and objectives of national wildlife refuges. Many groups are well established and provide extensive assistance to their refuges; others have just gotten started. This website is a resource for all Refuge Friends.