For the Benefit of a
Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation
America is a different place than it was a century or even a decade ago. It is more diverse, increasingly urban, and younger. Ten of the 24 recommendations outlined in Conserving the Future address how the National Wildlife Refuge System will change to better serve the public through visitor services, communication, volunteers, and partnerships. Products and tools were shaped by the following principles.
We serve a diverse public by:
  • Meeting "visitors" where they are, on their media, and from their interests and values.
  • Offering a unique brand that demonstrates that wildlife and their habitats are valuable for people and communities.
From field trips to fishing days to birding festivals, refuges welcome millions of visitors each year. Below are the tools we can use to improve their experiences.
Ambassador Program

Each one of us, through our interactions with the public, represent the National Wildlife Refuge System brand. This unique training program will help us deliver conservation in a friendly and inspirational voice from the ground to better connect to our local communities and our visitors. Coming Soon

VS Connect

This on-line platform connects visitor services professionals including our partners and volunteers to share resources and best practices.

Outdoor Recreation

Consistent with its conservation mission, the Refuge System will strive to increase opportunities to develop outdoor recreation opportunities and mentor new hunters, anglers, and other outdoor recreationists.

Strategic Plans

Plans for Interpretation, Environmental Education, Hunting and Fishing, and Outdoor Recreation (Coming in 2016) chart a course to leverage partnerships, maximize resources, and institute evaluations to ensure program success.

Appropriate Use Review
These plans and products describe actions to enhance the effectiveness of volunteer programs, Friends, and community partnerships across the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Working with Volunteers, Friends Organizations, and Community Partnerships E-Guide (PDF)

This E-guide has the latest guidance on topics ranging from Planning High Impact for volunteers to starting a Friends Group. The Volunteer portion of the Handbook has been reformatted into an Intranet Site for us for Department of the Interior employees. Visit the interactive site here.

Volunteer Tracker

An web-based tool that integrates all aspects of volunteer management from recruitment to recognition. Coming in Spring of 2015

Partnership Staff Training(PDF)

This product integrates key concepts into all aspects of our employee training programs from Employee Foundations to Project Leader Academy.

Friends Partnership Mentoring Program Action Plan (PDF)

Building off the former mentoring program, the new plan addresses the needs of a larger and maturing Friends program. It includes face-to-face peer-to-peer coaching, and information sharing between a trained mentor team, refuge staff, and board members.

Volunteer and Partner Involvement in the National Wildlife Refuge System(PDF)

This plan describes actions to​ ​enhance the effectiveness of​ ​volunteer programs, Friends organizations, and community​ ​partnerships at national​ ​wildlife refuges (refuges),​ ​wetland management districts​ ​(districts), and other field​ ​stations (fish hatcheries​ ​and ecological services​ ​offices) of the U.S. Fish and​ ​Wildlife Service (Service).

The goal of the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program is to engage urban communities as partners in wildlife conservation. The following tools are helping us accomplish this. All of these tools can be found on the Urban website:
Standards of Excellence

Principles to live by for ALL refuges to meaningfully engage diverse audiences. The eight Standards outline topics ranging from building partnerships to modeling sustainability.

Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships

This grant and partnership program encourages the Service, urban communities, and partners to come together to promote conservation in cities across the country.

Know Your Community

Through a collaborative research effort, the Service and partners have gathered a comprehensive list of resources to help all refuges understand barriers to new audience engagement and strategies to help.

Urban Refuges

Nearly one-fifth (101 refuges) of the Refuge System is within 25 miles of urban centers. This program directs substantial investments to boost refuge programming to priority urban refuges that can demonstrate innovation and lead conservation initiatives relevant to their unique communities.

New Urban Policy

Coming Soon

In today's changing world, it's even more imperative to communicate how the Refuge System improves the lives, health, employment prospect and neighborhoods of a diverse public.
National Communications Strategy

The Strategy engaging new audiences, specifically those that are driving the changing demographics of the country, boosts impact by delivering an authentic and relevant brand through our most powerful and engaging media, and modernizing our digital interfaces to deliver user-friendly information to the public.

Introduction to Social Media and "How To" Guide

This easy to follow guide is helpful to understand how to effectively promote your refuge using the powerful tools available through the Internet.

Meet the National Wildlife Refuge System - Special Places Where Wildlife and People Thrive

This primer is a MUST read for new volunteers, Friends and even employees. It chronicles our history our habitats and the unique value we offer the American people.

Find More
Conserving the Future Tools
We are a science-based organization. We subscribe to the highest standards of scientific integrity and reflect this commitment in the design, delivery and evaluation of all our work.
Human demands on the environment combined with environmental stressors are creating an urgent need for innovative conservation choices. The scale of issues and challenges we face is unprecedented and impacts us all. Explore how we intend to scale up to landscape thinking.
The vision outlines a path to deliberately developing a diverse, inclusive, competent and caring workforce that will commit to conservation, embrace the responsibility of public service, and succeed in realizing this in effective, efficient and innovative ways.