Newsroom Midwest Region

Friends of Necedah named 2018 Friends Group of the Year

March 21, 2018

Friends of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Roger Leitner/USFWS.
Friends of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Roger Leitner/USFWS.

We are pleased to share the news that Friends of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge has been selected as the 2018 Molly Krival Refuge System Friends Group of the Year. National Wildlife Refuge Association President Geoffrey L. Haskett announced the news today, along with the rest of the 2018 award recipients. The is the second year in a row that a Wisconsin-based Friends group has been honored.

Made up of more than 300 dedicated people, Friends of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge helps the refuge meet their conservation mission every day. Founded by a small group of volunteers in 1999, members work to fulfill a lofty vision of "connecting people with wildlife and nature today, tomorrow and forever."

"I’d like to thank Friends of Necedah for being essential partners in supporting refuge learn-to-fish programs, annual hunts and for all of their work to replace the refuge fishing pier and kayak launch for safer access for all," said Chief of Refuges Charlie Blair.

Friends members have logged more than 300,000 refuge volunteer service hours since the group was established and play wide-ranging roles on the refuge, from participating in fire management and maintenance to educating the public. The Friends board ensures the group is aligned with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service priorities to support environmental education and other public programs, along with photography and wildlife observation opportunities for people from all walks of life.

This past year the Friends Group provided opportunities for valuable information sharing and collaboration, including partnering with Friends of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge to host an annual Jr. Duck Stamp Recognition event. The Friends also coordinated waterfowl art workshops that helped to offset funding cuts to the art programs in local schools. During Refuge Week in October, the Friends group reached out to local senior centers to provide opportunities for their residents to get out to the refuge and enjoy nature.

"The Friends of Necedah exemplifies what it means to be true friends - people you can lean on and who will always lend a helping hand," said National Wildlife Refuge Association President Geoffrey Haskett.

Friends members also play a large role in community engagement, working closely with the public to bring new visitors to the refuge. Each month, members host a local artist's work on the refuge for visitors to view. At the beginning of the month, the Friends host a reception with the featured artist in attendance, as well as related workshops for guests who would like to learn their techniques. Friends members even play a large role on the national level, supporting the National Wildlife Refuge System in Washington D.C., hosting other Friends groups from different refuges for workshops and helping to protect the endangered whooping crane and other species. Friends members also support future conservationists, funding more than 20 scholarships for high school students entering the field of natural resources.

The Friends of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge embodies a strong positive influence within the refuge and the surrounding community. Congratulations to the Friends and thank you for tirelessly helping Necedah Refuge to grow and prosper. Friends of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge will be formally recognized on May 24, 2018 with this award at the National Wildlife Refuge Association's Annual Gala Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.