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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Nature Still Gives Jason Pyron the 'Fuzzy Feeling' in his Belly He Got as a Kid

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Jason Pyron
Jason talks to students on a field trip.

Jason Pyron is the Sage-grouse Coordinator for the Idaho Fish & Wildlife Office in Boise, Idaho.  His typical day involves working extensively with partners to ensure the long-term conservation of our sagebrush steppe landscapes.

5 questions for Jason

1. What inspired you to work with young people?

My mom was my greatest inspiration for me to work with young people. She's dedicated her life as a teacher and administrator to our future through education. Through her, I realized that it's all of our jobs to help educate the next generation.

2. What is your favorite part of working with kids?

Their honesty, simplicity and sincere sense of naive enjoyment when they see something spectacular in nature for the first time. Seeing them get excited gets me excited, and reminds me how awesome and important our wildlife and natural resources are.

3. What is the best way to connect youth with nature?

Get them out into it.


City Birds: Working with Partners for Urban Bird Conservation in Albuquerque, Other Cities

Migration Game
Guests at the Albuquerque celebration play the Migration Game, which shows how birds migrate and some of the threats they face. Photo credit: USFWS

We recently celebrated Albuquerque’s designation an Urban Bird Treaty city. As Benjamin Tuggle, the Service’s Southwest Regional Director, noted: Albuquerque’s middle Rio Grande corridor “is growing rapidly. It is critical that we work together to balance all the demands on the river while conserving the important natural resource we so highly value in New Mexico.”

We featured the Urban Bird Treaty in the summer issue of Fish & Wildlife News:

In Phoenix, Arizona, residents learn about bird-friendly landscaping at the Rio Salado Bird Garden, a garden in the local Audubon Center. Residents, especially those with disabilities, are given the opportunity to participate in citizen science opportunities.

In Washington, DC, Earth Conservation Corps (ECC) included 30 elementary schools in the District in a bird-of-prey study. ECC installed and operated a web camera at an osprey nest on the South Capitol Street (Frederick Douglass Memorial) Bridge. Students helped tag four juvenile osprey and tracked the tagged birds online. ECC made school visits to educate students about bird-of-prey lifecycles, osprey in the urban environment and actions students can take to improve habitat for birds of prey. 

And in Indianapolis, Indiana, the city created the Indy Birding Trail, an online guide to 35 of the city's best areas for birds. 


Spot Something Illegal on a Refuge? Call In or Email a TIP

Trash on a refuge
Violations on Service-managed lands can take many forms, including illegally dumped trash. Photo credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

We have established a Turn In Poachers (TIPs) Line to help visitors and other members of the public report violations occurring on National Wildlife Refuges and other Fish and Wildlife Service-managed lands.

You can call 1-844-NWR-TIPS (697-8477) or email NWR_TIPs@fws.gov 24 hours a day. You'll be asked for the type of incident as well as the date, place (refuge name or county/state) and approximate time of the incident. You may leave your name and contact information, which will aid law enforcement in the response and investigation, or you may remain anonymous. Any contact information provided will be used for official purposes only.

Thanks for your help in preserving America's natural treasures.

Wisconsin Man Sentenced for Migratory Bird Sausage

An investigation that began in 2007 with a few strange reports of dead owls found along the road in a garbage bag has ended with a Wisconsin man who owned a captive pheasant hunting lodge pleaded guilty to the illegal sale of sausage containing snow goose, a migratory bird. After engaged citizens alerted game wardens to the dead owls, the wardens in turn alerted the Service and turned over 13 dead long-eared owls that appeared to have been shot.

Full Story

Long-eared owl

Long-eared owl. Photo courtesy of Steve Gifford.


Childhood adventures inspire life career goals

Bird watching
After four field seasons with the Service, Tannar plans to get a master's degree in something like  fisheries biology. Photo credit: USFWS

As a child Tannar Francis was introduced to the natural world as part of the Penobscot Indian Nation. Now, as a college student and Service intern, his dream is to have a career as a fisheries biologist conserving the wildlife and habitat that surrounds his home in Maine.

Full Story

Hunting and Fishing Come with No Guarantees; That’s ‘Part of the Fun and Part of the Frustration'

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Anna Harris
Anna Harris gets in some fly fishing at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.

As a public affairs specialist in our Pacific Region, Anna Harris works tirelessly to promote the Service’s conservation efforts with the greater sage-grouse. Because partnerships with the states and private landowners are especially important to sage-grouse conservation, Anna meets with a lot of different folks who are all trying to conserve the greater sage-grouse and its habitat.

5 Questions for Anna 

1. Do you hunt/fish and if so what? 

I love all types of fishing, especially fly fishing. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest this past summer, my fishing has changed from small trout streams in the Shenandoah Mountains on a fly rod to trolling for 30 pound Coho and Chinook salmon running up the Columbia River.  

Anna Harris
Anna and a good friend on one of Anna's first deer hunts in West Virginia.

I’ve been a successful deer hunter for the past three years. Last year I did go on an elk hunt in Colorado. I made T-shirts for the group – all Wildlife and Sport Fish Service employees – and we called ourselves the Awesome Elk Hunters Alliance (AEHA). I describe that hunt as an “armed hike” through beautiful Grand Mesa, Colorado. 

2. Who got you into fishing or hunting?  

Several Service friends, and the Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow course, introduced me to hunting. I didn’t grow up in a hunting family, and really didn’t know much about the sport until I began working for the Service.  Richard Aiken and I were working together on a report about the economic importance of hunting and in doing so, I felt like a phony touting around all the fact and figures about the sport, while I had never actually tried it. Richard was teaching his young sons to hunt right around the time I wanted to learn. 

Fly fishing was more about the what, rather than the who. I spent a summer working on a dude ranch in Big Sky, Montana and saw one of our fly fishing guides re-creating a scene from A River Runs Through It—the classic fly fishing movie with Brad Pitt. I immediately knew I wanted to learn to fish like that; it really is an art form. 


Kids and their 'Ah-ha’ Moments Inspire Heather Rawlings

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Heather Rawlings
Heather takes a water velocity measurement as part of B-Wet! -- an outreach event through the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative and NOAA.

Heather Rawlings is the Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologist at the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office in Alpena, Michigan, and covers 19 northern counties of the lower peninsula of Michigan.  She works with private landowners to restore habitat on those lands. She focuses on wetland, grassland and river restoration. She also leads the Alpena office’s Children and Nature Program, conducting a lot of outreach to school groups, with a particular emphasis on a test group of third- and fourth-grade students that the office visits once a month and teaches a hands-on science lesson. She also serves on the leadership team for the North-East Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative and Great Lakes STEM (e science, technology, engineering and math) Initiative. She is also a wife and mother to two young boys.

5 Questions for Heather 

1. What inspired you to work with young people?

My parents are both teachers, so I believe I inherited a genetic disposition toward teaching. I have always enjoyed working with young people, and I have always been heavily involved with outreach activities at the Alpena office. I have now started working toward a master’s degree in environmental education, so I will be able to teach at the local community college.

2. What is your favorite part of working with kids? 

Kids inspire me – they ask fantastic questions and are genuinely curious about the natural world. They give me energy, because they get excited about being outside and learning new things.  The thing that keeps me going is the “Ah-ha!” moment kids have when they grasp a concept or find something amazing – their face lights up and you know you have provided them with a moment or item they will remember. 


Where Do You Go to Watch Birds?

Bird watching
Schoolchildren test their binoculars for bird watching at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Ridgefield, Washington. Photo credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS

Note: The contest is over. Congrats to Bosque del Apache NWR for its third-place finish.

About 47 million people spent time watching birds in 2011. That’s about 20 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older. Spring and fall are some of the best times to see some of their amazing feats of migration. USA Today takes advantage of the fall migration to ask readers to choose their favorite bird-watching spot. National wildlife refuges figure prominently in the nominations.


Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge Opens Accessible Hunting Blind

A hunter takes advantage of the new blind. Photo credit: USFWS

Just 20 miles from the Canadian border, the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is bordered by the rugged Selkirk Mountains to the west, the Kootenai River, Deep Creek to the east and state lands to the south.  Even in such remote areas as northern Idaho, we are dedicated to finding ways to connect the public with America’s wild places, especially those members of the public who might not have as many opportunities to visit the outdoors. That’s why we built an accessible hunting blind at Kootenai for use by people with disabilities. The response has been awesome.

Full Story


Fish -- and Unexpected Moments of Excitement -- Inspire Katrina Mueller

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Katrina Mueller
Katrina introduces a child to fishing. Credit: Sydney West

Katrina Mueller serves as Fisheries Outreach Coordinator in Alaska.  This means working with Field Offices and recognized Fish Habitat Partnerships to tell the public what is being done to conserve fish and their habitats. The breadth of projects and amount of media now available to tell these stories keep her on her toes. She also co-chairs the Alaska Region’s Connecting People with Nature Team and serves on the Polar Bear Recovery Team’s Communication Working Group. She and her family spend most of their free time hunting and fishing and enjoying Alaska's out-of-doors.   

5 Questions for Katrina 

1. What inspired you to work with young people?

Fish inspired me to work with people, including young people. Fish have endlessly interesting adaptations, are a great source of protein, support many thousands of jobs, and are the basis of many people’s ways of living, especially here in Alaska. Despite all this, nearly 40 percent of North American fishes that spend a significant portion of their lives in freshwater are imperiled because of people. Many things—including the fact that fish are largely invisible in their natural habitat—make it increasingly easy for people to be unaware of, or ignore, the plight of fish and the factors causing declines and localized extinctions. I think working with young people to develop a connection with fish (e.g., via fishing, engagement in habitat restoration and through art) is an important investment. 

2. What is your favorite part of working with kids?

My favorite part is the unexpected moments of excitement. We took some urban youth on a fish-focused field trip and the highlight of the trip happened as we pulled into a parking lot that overlooks a rocky beach. To my surprise, these Alaska kids had never put their feet in the ocean. They started screeching in excitement over the crashing waves and using bits of dead seaweed as pretend-mustaches. It wasn’t on our agenda and I think they’ll remember it for a long time.  


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