A year ago, the Friends of Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona had only a secretary and a treasurer and both had other full time jobs. Then Lynn Cramer—newly retired and looking for an opportunity to volunteer—moved in across the street from the refuge.

Now she is president of the Friends and within a year, membership tripled—still under 50, but growing steadily.

Cramer prepared a PowerPointâ„¢ presentation about the refuge and began sharing it in Yuma–at RV parks where traveling retirees live, as well as school PTA meetings, churches, after–school care centers and business organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis. Today, everywhere she goes, she carries a supply of refuge brochures and membership applications.

Cramer often signs up new members one or two at a time, by recruiting volunteers for specific projects and making the community more aware of the refuge, especially the 100,000 snowbirders who live in Arizona just for the winter. This year, she recruited a local professor to help with a fall insect rally. The professor not only joined the Friends but is now on the board.

Forty people and the local newspaper came to the refuge when Cramer offered homemade muffins at a “grand opening” after two local crafters designed a new sign for the Friends’ book store. More volunteers showed up to help restore the old gold mine site on the refuge (Kofa actually stands for King of Arizona Mine). Others helped build a float that won first place in the local Silver Spur Rodeo. Cramer worked a free booth at the Arizona Indoor Marketplace in Yuma for five weekends in a row. Each event garners a few new members.

There is a new Friends of Kofa Web site, with membership information prominently visible on the homepage and seven membership categories:

Student: $10,

Individual: $20

Family: $30

Teacher & Class: $30

Special Friend: $50

Supporting: $100

Life: $1000

At special events, the membership dues are often dropped to $5—a 75% discount for one day only.

The Friends group is planning a geocaching class for teens this spring. “The GPS club in Yuma has more than 100 members interested in helping with this,” says Cramer. “How lucky are we?”

A junior birding club is being organized with the local Audubon chapter. The Friends will use part of a $5,000 National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to buy binoculars, journals and bird guides. A rally for children with disabilities is planned for February. At every event, everyone leaves with a membership brochure and Kofa Refuge—along with Cibola and Imperial Refuges—gather a few more Friends.