NFWF Announces More Than $93,000 in Grants to National Wildlife Refuge Friends Organizations

March 04, 2016

12 Grants Made Possible with Funding from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Enbridge

WASHINGTON, DC, (March 4, 2016) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced more than $93,000 in grants to 12 National Wildlife Refuge Friends (Friends) organizations. The grants will support an array of capacity building and on-the-ground projects within the National Wildlife Refuge System, ranging from strategic planning and digital media support to pollinator gardens and nest cameras. 

Administered through NFWF, the grants were awarded through the National Wildlife Refuge Friends Grant Program, a collaborative effort between NFWF, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Enbridge, the National Wildlife Refuge Association, and the National Audubon Society. The program provides competitive grants that enable Friends organizations to develop and implement conservation projects, strengthen organizational capacity and skills, meet local refuge challenges, and build community recognition and support.

“Volunteers serving with National Wildlife Refuge Friends organizations play a significant role at some of our nation’s most important natural sites,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The grants we announce today will support their ongoing efforts to conserve and protect wildlife within our National Wildlife Refuges.”

Last year, Enbridge joined as the program’s first private partner and will continue its support in 2016 by providing $115,000 for the program. This funding will be used to support Friends organizations in Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.

“Enbridge is proud to partner with National Wildlife Refuge Friends to further our conservation and environmental initiatives in specific regions throughout the U.S.,” said Brad Shamla, vice president of U.S. Operations at Enbridge. “Conservation and protection of wildlife resources is essential to every community, and we recognize the way we help steward these is important to everyone.”

There are now more than 200 Friends groups supporting National Wildlife Refuges, with new organizations created each year. Friends organizations play an important role to the collective mission of the Refuge System and, along with other volunteers, accomplish much of the outreach, support, and conservation work across the refuge system.

“The value of the Friends grant program cannot be overstated, “said Joanna Webb, National Friends and Partnership Coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service. “These grants allow Friends to gain valuable experience in applying for and managing grant funding, get boots on the ground doing important conservation work, and focus on building nonprofit organizations and strengthening partnerships across the country – all the while strengthening the National Wildlife Refuge System.”

Grantees include:

  • Friends of Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge will restore 12 acres of native prairie in Illinois for the benefit of pollinator species. This project will increase plantings of native forbes and grasses, both on the refuge and in the neighboring community, and support interpretive programs that encourage native plantings by private landowners.
  • Friends of Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge will create and implement volunteer training to demonstrate how to lead several unique, informative tours through the Port Louisa Refuge in Iowa.
  • Friends of Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge will set up a nest camera on South Monomoy Island in Massachusetts to stream video into the refuge’s visitor center during the tern breeding season. Doing so will provide the public with a low-impact, unobtrusive way to observe a unique and very active tern colony directly from our visitor center and web pages.
  • Founders and Friends of Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge will increase organizational capacity to more effectively support the goals of the Two Ponds NWR.  This grant will be used to develop a website and sponsor outreach activities to increase volunteer support and form partnerships with other local organizations.
  • Friends of the Wichitas will use this funding as part of a challenge grant to their refuge’s nature store. This project will help FOW to support improved visitor services and programs, and provide an opportunity to deliver  higher quality merchandise in the Nature Store that will further public appreciation of the natural, cultural and historic resources of the refuge.
  • Refuge Friends, Inc. will host a two-day facilitated retreat, with follow-up support, to create a document that includes a vision, revised mission, goals, objectives, strategies, tactics, and timelines to guide RFI for the next 10 years. The project will increase community awareness and engagement with the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the national refuge system, and RFI.
  • Friends of Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge will develop outreach tools to bring awareness to the refuge and increase organizational capacity. This will include brand development, design of outreach materials for public distribution, website development, and the creation of an informational video to describe the natural and cultural importance of the refuge.
  • Friends of Attwater Prairie-Chicken Refuge will update and create new video, audio, and photographic documentation of the recovery efforts for the federally endangered Attwater Prairie-Chicken. This high quality digital content will enhance the Friends’ ability to effectively engage and educate about recovery efforts.
  • Friends of the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge will install permanent, weather-proof telescopes for viewing the surrounding 5,600 acres of established prairie. A video system compatible with the telescopes will assist with group viewing and support educators using Project Bluestem and other instructor led curricula.
  • Friends of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge will expand their existing Butterfly and Beneficial Insect Garden to connect with other components of the Refuge to increase size and accessibility. The expansion will provide habitat for butterflies, insects and small birds, as well as an increased wildlife viewing area for visitors.
  • Seney Natural History Association will strengthen its active membership within the rural communities that surround the refuge through publicity and educational initiatives. The Seney National History Association will achieve this by creating a website, attending community events, and giving educational presentations.
  • Friends of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge will work with a strategic planner to strengthen their ability to achieve their mission and to increase membership and capacity. This project will help strengthen operations for the Friends and increase their understanding of how to recruit members and diverse volunteers, expand education goals, and to raise awareness of the Florida panther.

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation:

Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation's fish, wildlife and habitats. Working with federal agencies, corporations, foundations and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.9 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at