Training Programs for Friends

Friends Academy

National Wildlife Refuge System Friends Academy is a customized course designed for leaders on the boards of Friends organizations interested in having a broader understanding of the National Wildlife Refuge System and enhancing skills to increase the effectiveness of Friends partnerships with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sites.  Upon completion of this five-day course, you will be able to: 

  • Outline the basic organizational structure for the National Wildlife Refuge System and identify programs and staff working with Friends partnerships;
  • Employ three new strategies or skills to build effective relationships with Service staff and board members within the Friends/Service partnership;
  • Implement new strategies to enhance the sustainability of your board, and membership and volunteer programs;
  • Identify and utilize resources or tools, and where to locate them, that can help you increase the effectiveness of your Friends organization;
  • Utilize Friend to Friend relationships for the purpose of sharing successes and increasing your effectiveness as a Friends leader; and
  • Describe broader roles Friends can play in protecting, enhancing and expanding the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Friends Mentoring Program  
Refuge field stations and their Friends organization can now jointly apply for mentoring on a year-round basis.  The Friends Mentoring Program is a Refuge System support program which offers peer-to-peer coaching and information sharing between a trained mentor pair, refuge staff and their Friends board.  The program is designed to nurture and add vibrancy to Friends partnerships of all ages and sizes, from formative to mature.  The trained mentor pair includes an experienced Friends board member and Service employee who help the mentees assess and evaluate their Friends-Service partnership​, organizational effectiveness​, overall ​sustainability.

​In the past, mentors have assisted with strategic planning, board development, communications systems, life cycle assessment, prioritizing, and starting over.  If selected for mentoring through the application process, partnerships can have a pair of mentors travel to their station, at no cost to the station, for two days of peer-to-peer coaching.  Before completing the application, please contact your regional Friends coordinator ( for Region-specific information.  For more information about the program in general, please contact national Friends coordinator Joanna Webb (703-358-2392​)​  or email  


Friends Partnership Mentoring Program Action Plan (3.12MB PDF)

Friends Mentoring 2016 Application (139 KB PDF)

Friends Academy 2011
Friends Academy 2011
Credit: Joanna Webb


Webinars specific to Friends organizations are periodically hosted by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and are available for viewing online from NEEF's webinars page.

Reinvigorating Your Friends Partnership

Next offering Spring 2017

Friends organizations are important partners for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service field stations.  Like all non-profit organizations, they have periods ​when they flourish and stagnate. During this online course, FWS staff and Friends board members can assess the “health” of their Friends organizational effectiveness and overall sustainability.

Course Leader: or 304-876-7651