Discussion Questions for Refuge
Poster for America’s Wild Read Spring 2023 with head and shoulders image of author and image of book cover for Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. Graphics: Richard DeVries/USFWS

This Spring, we're reading a heartfelt story titled, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams as our quarterly wild read selection. Terry grew up knowing Great Salt Lake, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, and the thousands of birds that migrate through and it became her refuge and sanctuary. We have written a list of discussion questions for you to think through as you read along with us. 

Come join us on Thursday, May 18 at 3 PM ET for our online book discussion and share your thoughts and perspectives on a few of these questions. Please register in advance.The Wild Read book club meetings are a place where the readers reflect on the reading, answer discussion questions, and enjoy some time together through a conversation on conservation literature. We hope you join us. Feel free to also use these questions as a springboard for conversations with your friends, colleagues, or local book club.

Refuge Discussion Questions

  1. Where do you find refuge when the weight of the world becomes too much to bear?  


  2. Williams believes in letting nature do its thing instead of trying to control it. What does Refuge have to say about change to our families, our bodies, and our environment? 


  3. Williams shares about the “magic of birds and how they bridge cultures and continents with their wings.” What do you think of her naming each chapter after a bird? And is there a bird that holds special value to you? 


  4. What effect does Williams’ charting of the lake levels with each chapter, and her observational, naturalist’s perspective have on how you read the text? 


  5. How does this book treat terminal illness, death, grief, and healing?  


  6. The wetlands at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge are considered one of the most productive ecosystems, yet it is one of the most threatened. When wetlands are destroyed, many species go with them. How can we make a difference as conservationists when drought, flooding, or change stands in the way?  

Brought to you by the USFWS Library, America's Wild Read is a virtual book club where we aim to inspire you to engage with conservation literature and nature writing. We hope you will read along with us as we feature various conservation books every quarter — contemporary, traditional, new, and classic.

Story Tags

Connecting people with nature
Education outreach
Employees (USFWS)