“It is a joy to be an outreach extension of the Fish and Wildlife Service to our community,” said Clarence Malick about the 2012 Take Pride National Volunteer Award given to Friends of the St. Croix Wetland Management District, WI. In fact, it is because of the Friends outreach that the young organization is as vibrant as it is.

Two years ago, 50 people came to the refuge when Friends grant writer Greg Scheder initially organized his Cub Scout pack to clear invasive plants. This year, there were 500 parents, Scouts, educators and partners for Conservation Day on the WPA (Waterfowl Production Area).

The Friends have also produced a full–color birding guide to the WMD’s auto tour route, brought middle and high school students to the refuge to plant native prairie flowers and grasses, and partnered with at least 20 community agencies and conservation organizations in the past two years alone.

What does Scheder recommend for other Friends groups? “Look at the strategic plan for your refuge.What organizations can you draw on to support your group? Develop ongoing strategic partnerships.”