National Wildlife Refuge System

Get to Know Your Refuge

Wetland Restoration
Hikers at Montezuma Refuge, NY, may see immature eagles like this one.
Credit: Doug Racine

April 28, 2014 - Hike five miles, paddle 10. Ski or snowshoe five more. Volunteer eight hours. Attend five public refuge events. Keep a nature journal or photo album. All on Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in upstate New York. All in one year from the day you start.

The Discover the Refuge challenge was conceived by visitor services manager Andrea VanBeusichem. “I wanted to motivate people to do more than attend festivals,” she says. “When you sign up, you make a commitment to keep coming. It’s something anyone can do, by yourself or with family or friends.”

VanBeusichem and the refuge staff will be there to help every step of the way.  There are maps with suggested paddling trips in the canal adjacent to the refuge and the river that goes around it. There are planned events for each activity, including a snowshoe walk led by the Montezuma Audubon chapter – which has snowshoes to lend.   Hike five miles? “If you can only do half a mile at a time, that’s ok,” says VanBeusichem, full of encouragement. “You’ve got the whole year to do this.”

The journal can be filled with words, drawings, photos, notes on a brochure. When participants return with their journals at the end of their challenge year, they’ll get a t-shirt listing their accomplishments – and a much fuller sense of the refuge.  VanBeusichem hears people at the visitor center saying, “We didn’t really know this was here. I thought it was just a big swamp.” 

Wetland Restoration
Complete six activities over the course of the year to win the Discover the Refuge Challenge at Montezuma Refuge, NY.
Credit: Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex

Eight people signed up for the challenge when it was launched on a spring day in April. The group learned about finding signs of wildlife on a trail and identifying lichen and invasive species. At the site of a platform where bald eagles have been released, VanBeusichem “talked about the bald eagle restoration and release program of the 1970s. Not only did we talk about the eagles, we saw them! One adult and six immature.”  It was one of those strange snowy days in spring this year, prompting one participant to ask if the hike would count for a snowshoe walk! A group of Boy Scouts has signed on for the summer.

Find out more information about the Discover the Refuge Challenge by contacting or calling 315-568-5987. If you complete your own challenge on another refuge, let us know – send an email to Find a national wildlife refuge near your home or travel destination here.

Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex Facebook page



Last updated: April 28, 2014