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Discovery Center board of directors. Photo by USFWS.

Discovery Center board of directors. Photo by USFWS.

Friends of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge
Named 2016 Molly Krival Friends Group of the Year

We are proud to share the news that Friends of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge has been named the 2016 Molly Krival Friends Group of the Year by the National Wildlife Refuge Association. National Wildlife Refuge Association President David Houghton made the announcement February 17, 2016 in Washington, D.C.

This national award is named to honor the late Molly Krival, a pioneer in the Refuge Friends Group movement and is sought after by Friends groups across the country. The Friends of Tamarac was established more than 20 years ago by local refuge supporters and aimed to help meet the needs of the refuge. Since that time, the group has developed into an organization with a broader awareness and greater appreciation of the National Wildlife Refuge System mission.

“The Friends of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge shows how a grassroots organization can develop into a powerhouse,” said David Houghton, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. “This Friends group is an invaluable resource, ensuring Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge is an integral part of the community.”

Always conscientious in the delivery of their messages, Friends of Tamarac ensures that they tie local refuge management objectives with those of the wider National Wildlife Refuge System. From migratory birds to monarchs, the Friends regularly incorporate national initiatives into events and outreach strategies.

The Friends group’s most impressive initiative has been the Tamarac Discovery Center capital campaign, which was donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service June 2015. This 2,000 square-foot, $800,000 building is the hub for the refuge environmental education programs, citizen science training and conservation planning. Even with the challenge of fundraising in a small, rural community, the Friends of Tamarac have demonstrated impressive fundraising, reaching 96% of the goal amount and securing a zero interest loan to assure completion as planned. Their pioneering work is paving a path for other Friends groups who are interested in working within our agency construction guidelines and specifications, as well as, donation policy when it comes to real property.

The Friends of Tamarac is particularly passionate about connecting people and nature. From leading interpretive workshops on the refuge flora and fauna for families, to a weekly nature explorations for youth through the summer months.
“The Friends of Tamarac are building a living legacy of conservation stewards through a dynamic environmental education program,” commented Neil Powers, Tamarac Refuge Manager. “They reach out to schools in the nearby communities including those in the White Earth Indian Reservation.”

“I’m continually amazed that our Friends, refuge staff, volunteers, community partners, business leaders and private citizens all came together with a goal of making this project a reality. I am especially proud of the fact that we all came together as ‘investors’ in the future of natural resources conservation,” continued Powers.
The group goes above and beyond in trumpeting the benefits of Tamarac Refuge to our local community, be it through traditional environmental education programs or direct to fellow community groups like the Izaak Walton League, Rotary and Kiwanis.

They have partnered with the refuge on county-wide and watershed district projects and recognize the opportunity to promote land stewardship, connect corridors of conservation units and demonstrate the role the refuge plays on a larger landscape level.

Friends of Tamarac take an interest in the science and research happening on the refuge as well. In recent years, the Friends of Tamarac have been awarded grants that assist biologists with data collection of water quality projects, ecological classification systems, wetland restoration projects and extensive tree planting for enhancing forest habitats.

The positive impact that Friends of Tamarac continues to have here in Minnesota has sent a ripple effect across the National Wildlife Refuge System and it is gratifying to see their efforts expand to a national scene.

Learn more about this year’s winners from across the country:

By Neil Powers
Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge

Last updated: June 8, 2020