“I Gave Eight” is a voluntary program which encourages employees to take eight hours of paid time to participate in activities that connect people with the outdoors. While many employees already have the opportunity to spend time connecting with the outdoors, some do not. This program encourages all managers to offer employees eight hours of staff time annually to support this priority. By participating in “I Gave Eight” and voluntarily reporting these activities we can better capture and communicate stories about the great work our employees are doing to connect people, particularly youth with nature.
Connecting people with nature is one of the Service's six priorities. All employees, no matter your grade or job series, can participate in this priority. The Regional Directory strongly encourages all employees to take eight hours of paid time annually to be involved in an activity in the community that connects people with nature. This document provides managers and employees with guidelines and recommendations for using paid time to connect people with nature, thereby fulfilling the mission of the Service.
These guidelines are meant to assist and to provide incentives for participation. It is completely voluntary for employees to participate in the eight hours annually.
What types of activities count?
The eight hours are intended to be spent either directly or otherwise in support of engaging people in outdoor activities. Some examples include: leading nature walks or hikes, birdwatching, fishing, hunting, canoeing or kayaking, organizing a photography club or involving children or adults in "citizen science" (e.g. habitat assessment, managemental restoration activites). These activities can, but do not need to be part of a formal environmental education program. Any activity that provides children or adults the opportunity to be outdoors and discover nature counts.
Each employee must get the approval of his/her manager prior to engaging in the activity if an employee wants to pursue an activity, managers should make every effor to accomodate these requests while balancing staffing needs in each office. Activities do not have to occur at a Service office, and could occur in cooperation with a partner. Since employees are on servie time, the employee must represent the Service at the approved activity or event. This could be demonstrated by wearing a Service uniform, engaging people in Service activities or programs, providing Service-produced materials, or other ways that clearly indicate the employee is a Servie representative. We would encourage the manager to approve time employees spend participating in extra-curricular activities with their own children, as long as the employee is representing the Service.
How will the Regional Office track the eight hours?
Participating in the eight hours is voluntary and at the discretion of the station manager. Reimbursement for expenses such as gas, mileage, and parking, will not be covered. However, if an employee does participate, they should use ABC code 4A (Provide and Manage Opportunities for Quality Fish and Wildlife Dependent Recreation) for that time. This will allow the Regional Office to track trends in the number of hours spent engaged in this activty.
In addision, each field station will be receiving a supply of "I Gave Eight" wooden nickels, one for each employee at the field station. When an employee has "given eight," they voluntarily send in their nickel with the "How I Gave Eight" story form. The nickles will be collected in a jar in the Regional Director's office, where he can watch it fill up. The story forms will be used to help us communicate with key audiences including the media, Congress, partners, and our employees, about the great work we are doing to help the American people connect with nature.
In addition, field station and Regional Office progrmas who voluntarily self-report that at least 90 persent of their employees "gave eight" will be recognized for this achievement by the Regional Director with a "We Gave Eight" Honor Award during the annual RD Honor Award ceremony.
Contact either Garry Tucker, co-chair of the Southeast Region's Connecting People with Nature Team, at Garry_Tucker@fws.gov or 404-679-7356. You can also contact Ellen Marcus in the region's External Affairs office at Ellen_Marcus@fws.gov, or 404-679-7179.