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A Talk on the Wild Side.

National Wildlife Refuges Help Iditarod Run

Koyukuk Refuge Manager Kenton Moos snapped this photo of a musher on the trail last week...just before his phone froze!

One of the key requirements for a traditional sled dog race is snow (maybe why Miami is not a musher-haven). This year, a lack of snow forced the Iditarod in Alaska to change its route. That meant that mushers competing in the 2015  Iditarod, which crowned a winner today, spent about a quarter of the race next to or in National Wildlife Refuges. 

About 170 miles were in Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge, which lies at the heart of the Koyukon Region. Mushers traveled through the refuge’s boreal forest, wetlands, lakes, tundra, uplands, and along the Koyukuk River itself. The 2015 Iditarod race trail also traces the northern boundary of two other National Wildlife Refuges: Nowitna and Innoko, home to major part of the Iditarod National Historic Trail.


David Ellis Shares the Wonders of the World with Young People

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
David Ellis
David Ellis leads a class at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center.

David Ellis, Instructional Systems Specialist for the Fergus Falls Wetland Management District’s Prairie Wetlands Learning Center in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, spent more than 30 years in public education before getting into environmental education permanently. David’s enthusiasm and energy is directed toward using the local environment as a tool to teach students about science, math, language arts and other subjects. By integrating his extensive teaching experience with his love of the outdoors, he creates an environment where students can explore, discover and learn about the natural environment while meeting state and local curriculum standards.

5 Questions for David

1. What inspired you to work with young people?

My inspiration to work with young people began the fall of my freshman year of college. Taking a part-time job to pay for tuition was necessary. My job that fall was working as a noon supervisor at a nearby elementary school. They paid me, but looking back, my memory is of the great delight it was to have children talk with me and gather around me to be with me. That experience was a defining moment for me. Children inspire me. Children see the world with wonder. Children delight in life. They delight in the natural world. Being a part of their lives has always been the best part of each day. Seeing nature through the eyes of a child keeps the wonder of this world fresh and alive.


Federal Grant Programs Key to Coastal Marina’s Renovation

After improvements at the marina, the Corpus Christi area was also able to see an increase in recreational boating-related spending.

In February, we announced more than $14 million for projects to support recreational boating through our Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program. Funding for the BIG program comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which boaters and manufacturers support through excise and other taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and gasoline.

Learn how BIG and another federal program were key in orchestrating a major renovation effort at the Municipal Marina in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Read More

Opening Doors to the Outdoors is Jeramie Strickland’s ‘Way of Giving Back’

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Jeramie Strickland
Jeramie Strickland works with students at 4th Grade Conservation Field Day at Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savanna, Illinois.

Jeramie Strickland, a Wildlife Biologist in the Service’s Midwest Region at Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Thomson, Illinois, grew up mostly in inner-city Chicago but was lucky enough to spend three years in the backwoods of Alabama catching frogs, crafting homemade fishing poles, and exploring every nook and cranny of the ponds surrounding his home. He spends much of his time these days working on turtle conservation.

5 Questions for Jeramie

1. Why is urban outreach important to you?

Many people in urban settings do not know about the benefits of nature. Getting kids involved in conservation and exposing them to the outdoors is my way of giving back. I am truly thankful for my mentors who helped me get where I am, and I want to give kids from my community a good role model.


Environmental Education: The Pefect Fit for Teachers and Children

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service
Laurel Devaney
Laurel Devaney, Brooke, and Georgie look at insects.

Laurel Devaney is the Education Coordinator at our Fairbanks Fish & Wildlife Field Office in Alaska. She spends much of her time developing and running programs that draw young people into the outdoors, programs like “Weed Smackdown” to remove invasive plants, “Youth for Habitat” to introduce 13- and 14-year-olds to conservation, “Outdoor Days” to teach local sixth-graders natural resource management concepts and much more.

5 Questions for Laurel

1. What inspired you to work with young people?

My mother and grandmother were both classroom teachers. I grew up listening to them talk about lesson plans, classroom management and education theory. I was always involved in helping to set up their classrooms, and helping to develop bulletin boards and special classroom projects. Their passion for teaching and belief in its importance was an early influence on me. However, with my love of the outdoors and natural science topics, I wasn’t interested in becoming a classroom teacher. Environmental education was the perfect fit for me.


Push Against Trafficking of Elephant Ivory Grows

Elephants cross a river in Zambia. Photo by Alex Berger/Fickr Creative Commons

World Wildlife Day last Tuesday gave people everywhere an opportunity to show that they were serious about wildlife crime by adding their voice to a global social media campaign and tweeting, Instagramming or otherwise sharing a photograph of them holding a World Wildlife Day message with the hashtag #seriousaboutwildlifecrime. Many people (including Service employees) did just that. We have also been hearing some great news in the fight against the trafficking of elephant ivory.


Pick your Favorite National Wildlife Refuge

Blackwater NWR
Established as a waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is also home to many bald eagles. Photo by Eileen Wise

UPDATE: Voting ends on Monday, March 30 at noon ET.  Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is still leading. View the standings.

On March l4, l903, President Theodore Roosevelt established Pelican Island as the first federal bird reservation. It was the first time the federal government set aside land for the sake of wildlife, and Pelican Island “Refuge” became the first unit of the present National Wildlife Refuge System. 

Now, 112 years later, USA TODAY had a panel of experts whittle down the more than 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System to 20 nominees and it invites you to pick your favorite National Wildlife Refuge.

Learn More and VOTE


Rowan Gould: 38 Years of ‘Doing Something More Important, Bigger Than You Are’

Rowan Gould
Rowan helps a student fishing at the Constitution Gardens Pond in Washington, DC, at a fishing derby in 2012. Photo by Lavonda Walton/USFWS

“I’m just Rowan,” says Dr. Rowan Gould, the Service’s newly retired Deputy Director for Operations, when talking about a story on his retirement.

It doesn’t matter that in an email announcing the retirement Service Director Dan Ashe called him “our Glue Guy,” a basketball term that refers to players who consistently put the team first and do all the little things to enable it to succeed.

It doesn’t matter that twice Rowan served as acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or that he led the Department of the Interior’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as he had years earlier with the Service response to the Exxon Valdez spill  in Alaska.

And it certainly doesn’t matter that he has a room full of awards from his 38-year Service career, including the Presidential Rank Distinguished Service Award, the Meritorious Service Award and the Gold Secretarial Executive Leadership Award.

“There are so many people in the Fish and Wildlife Service,” Rowan says, who “have done more, better than I’ve ever even thought of.”


Trout Go to School

Angela James
James and students calculate feed rates for the Rio Grand cutthroat trout at Monte Vista Elementary School. Photo by Jessie Jobs/USFWS

Jessie Jobs accompanied the Service’s Angela James and Glenn Selby, a biologist with the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife, as they delivered Rio Grande cutthroat trout from the Seven Springs State Hatchery in Jemez, New Mexico, to Emerson and Monte Vista elementary schools. With the deliveries, the Native Fish in the Classroom Program, run by the Service’s New Mexico Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, is in full swing for the season. The program is in its fourth year and is administered by James. This year’s program will reach 16 classrooms in six schools of the Albuquerque area. 

Read ‘The Fish Are Here!’

‘The Cream of the Crop’ on Refuges

Members of the Friends of the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge lead their ECOLAB (Every Child Outside Learning About Bosque) program with San Antonio Elementary second- and third-grade students hiking out to a soil pit to study the soil profile in the Rio Grande floodplain. Photo Credit: Friends of the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Congratulations to:

Depending on the way you look at it, choosing these winners of the annual National Wildlife Refuge System Awards is either like catching fish in a barrel or like catching one individual fish in Lake Superior. That is to say, either really easy or quite difficult.


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