The National Wildlife Refuge System is committed to building partnerships which encourage conservation and preservation of our natural and cultural resources. Partnerships with the Refuge System bring innovative approaches to solving land management and water disputes in the most environmentally protective manner. Scientifically informed and technologically based stewardship of our public lands, waters, wildlife and special places must be collaborative efforts between the Refuge System, other government agencies and private organizations if conservation efforts are to succeed.

The Friends of Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuges is a nonprofit that does a myriad of things for our refuges, ranging from pulling weeds to filling bird feeders. But it the education programs they run that are the stars of the show. Held primarily at the McNary NWR, the Environmental Education program is a grassroots labor-of-love effort created in the 1990s by dedicated and caring volunteers interested in connecting children to nature. These volunteers continue to coordinate, organize and host an outdoor classroom at McNary NWR. Each year, approximately 2,000 students participate in hands-on experiential learning stations, including aquatic insects, shrub-steppe habitat, invertebrates, birds and more.

Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge partners with the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute (CGEI) and the Spring Creek Fish Hatchery to provide environmental education programming both on- and off-site at the refuge.

The Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute provides life-long learning opportunities which foster a sense of wonder and community stewardship of the Columbia River Gorge's natural systems. CGEI is a nonprofit educational organization that endeavors to promote knowledge, stewardship and curiosity of the local environment among the people of the region. It also promotes place-based education which is relevant to people's everyday lives and encourages them to take pride in the place where they live, to connect with the world in a natural way and to develop into informed and contributing citizens. Their array of environmental science and educational programs promote understanding and appreciation of the ecological processes of the local forest and shrub-steppe communities and how these ecosystems operate in connection to the human world. CGEI offers a variety of environmental education programs to students and the general public where they offer their target audiences education, information, communication and outreach. Specifically, CGEI offers the life-science unit SECRETS Program which is a ten-week program for upper elementary classrooms, and meets the Oregon benchmarks and Washington state learning standards using either the forest ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest or the shrub-steppe ecosystem of the Inter-Mountain West.

We also 'partner' with ourselves when the opportunity arises. The Information and Education Specialist at the Spring Creek Fish Hatchery provides field trip on the Refuge to 2nd-5th grade students from the local communities.