Broadly, accessibility means that people who think, sense, move, and communicate in different ways can be part of the same activities, go to the same places, do the same things, and use the same services. In the assessment, the term is used in two contexts: 1) the extent to which an individual can obtain a good or service at the time it is needed, and 2) the ease with which a facility or location can be reached from other locations.

For people who experience disabilities, accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments that ensures either “direct access” (i.e., unassisted) and “indirect access” and is strongly related to “universal design” which is about making things accessible to all people whether they have a disability or not.


What we do to accomplish program/project objectives and goals. They are the processes, tools, interventions, actions, etc., that are an intentional part of our program implementation. Multiple coordinated activities aimed at achieving a goal are called strategies. We conduct activities to deliver outputs that we hope will bring about our desired outcomes for target audiences. Our desired outcomes drive our choice of activities as opposed to the other way around.


A partner is any individual, group, organization, or institution whose participation and support are essential for the success of an activity, project, program, etc. These may be formal partners (i.e., the relationship is formalized through funding agreements or memoranda of understanding) or informal partners.


The ABA requires access to facilities designed, built, altered, or leased with Federal funds. Under this law, the Access Board develops and maintains accessibility guidelines that provide uniform standards for the design, construction, and alteration of buildings so that people with disabilities will have ready access to and use of them. Federal agencies are responsible for ensuring compliance with ABA standards which also address access to trails, picnic and camping areas, viewing areas, and beach access routes.

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990)

The ADA recognizes and protects the civil rights of people with disabilities. The law prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. In reference to facilities, it ensures they are readily accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities.


Assumptions are principles, beliefs, and ideas about all aspects of a program, including:

  • the problem or situation it’s addressing
  • the resources and staff
  • the way the program will operate
  • what we expect the program to achieve
  • the external environment
  • the internal environment
  • the participants: how they learn, their behavior, motivations, etc.

Assumptions should be made explicit when describing how and why we expect proposed interventions to bring about desired outcomes. We test our assumptions through program evaluation. Faulty assumptions may be the reason we don't achieve our expected outcomes.


An estimation of the extent to which the program/project interventions, and not some other factor(s) in the environment, caused the observed outcomes; meaning that the program/project has produced measurable effects.


The participants or population that our program/project activities reach. Successful programs/projects require that audiences be carefully defined and strategies created that are most appropriate for each audience.

AKA target audience


Information collected about the situation or condition prior to implementing the program (i.e., interventions). The data collected once the program begins is compared to baseline data to assess the amount of change that occurred.


The Big Picture Questions from the Standards of Excellence offer a quick way to assess progress being made toward accomplishing implementation goals. An urban refuge making progress towards achieving excellence will answer “yes” to each question.


Refers to tasks and responsibilities assigned to an employee in addition to the primary duties and responsibilities of the position.


A community is a population of individuals that share a geographic area, a culture, an identity, religious beliefs, self-defined interests, or other unifying characteristics.


A socially and/or politically prominent and respected member of a community. While “community leader” is a designation (often by secondary sources) for a person who is perceived to represent a community, community leaders are not necessarily elected to their positions, and often have no legal authorities.


Largely a subjective concept, Wiseman & Brasher (2008) define community wellbeing as “the combination of social, economic, environmental, cultural, and political conditions identified by individuals and their communities as essential for them to flourish and fulfill their potential.”


As a whole, the array of individuals, groups, organizations, etc., that care about and actively support the conservation of wildlife and natural resources. Collectively, they form a constituency that can make a major difference for the health and integrity of natural systems.


Cultural competence is the ability to interact effectively and appropriately with people of different cultures and backgrounds, in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values their worth and protects and preserves the dignity of each.


The set of customs, traditions, and values of a society, community, organization, or other group. Culture is complex and can encompass many things, such as knowledge, beliefs, worldviews, art, morals, laws, customs, communications, etc.


Demographic characteristics describe the composition of a population. They include things like age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, race, education, languages spoken, income, and occupation. Demographic characteristics can be determinants of a population’s use of, participation in, or access to specific types of goods and services, like outdoor recreation. Analysis of the demographics makeup of a population may be used to plan strategies and programs that better serve that population.


The temporary assignment of an employee to another position, within or outside the Service, for a specified time period. The expectation is that the employee will return to their official position of record upon expiration of the detail.


Diversity is the collective mixture of differences and similarities that includes, for example, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, spiritual belief, national origin, culture, age, physical ability, marital status, parental status, educational background, socioeconomic status, values, experiences, political beliefs or other ideologies, and more.

Diversity is often conflated with race but race is one of the many aspects of diversity. Diversity is about the many facets of identity that are both visible and invisible. As such, diversity refers to the unique differences between people in a group such as the diversity that is seen in animal and plant populations.


Knowledge and understanding of environmental concepts and issues are important components of environmental literacy, however, they are not the whole picture; environmental literacy includes action. An environmentally literate person applies their knowledge, skills, and abilities to make sound and effective decisions and takes action to improve the well-being of other individuals, societies, and the environment in a range of contexts.


The right of individuals and groups of individuals to receive the same impartial treatment, regardless of their differences. Equality ensures that individuals or groups of individuals are treated fairly and equally and no less favorably, specific to their needs, including areas of race, gender, disability, religion or belief, intellectual perspective, political beliefs or other ideologies, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, national origin, and age. This means taking active steps to identify and address issues of discrimination where there is evidence of prejudice, harassment, lack of understanding, disadvantage, or lack of participation for individuals from specific demographic groups.


The guarantee of fair treatment, access, and opportunity for all individuals or groups of individuals, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groupsNote: Equity is not synonymous with equality. Equality ignores the fact that people start from different places. If we embrace equity we can take the same resources and redistribute them so that everyone can have access to the same opportunities.


Ethnicity is associated with cultural factors, including nationality, rituals, religion, and language. It is about tradition, learned behavior, and customs. One’s ethnicity is determined based on the social and cultural groups s/he identifies with, therefore, an individual may possess multiple ethnicities and these ethnicities can be altered based on life-experiences. An example of ethnicity is German or Ethiopian heritage (regardless of race) or Han Chinese.


The systematic collection of information about the activities, outputs, outcomes and impact of a program/project in order to make judgments, improve effectiveness, add to knowledge/evidence-base, inform decisions about future program/project development, and/or be accountable for positive results and resources invested.


A written document describing the overall approach or design that guides executing the evaluation. It includes the evaluation questions that will be answered, what will be done, how it will be done, who will do it, when it will be done, why the evaluation is being conducted, and how the findings will likely be used and by whom.


The set of questions that define what an evaluation will investigate. Evaluation questions are not synonymous with “survey questions”.


People and/or organizations that are invested in the program, interested in the results of the evaluation, and/or have a stake or say in what will be done with the results of the evaluation.


The variety of circumstances or conditions beyond your control that may influence your program’s execution, selection of actions/interventions, and the success of the program.


A partner who operates under a written agreement with the Service. Written agreements include, but are not limited to funding agreements and memoranda of understanding.


Friends are unique partners who play an integral role in the goals of national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries. The Friends policy provides a distinction between Friends organizations and other community partners based on the provisions of the Volunteer and Community Partnership Acts. Effective with policy, Friends organizations must have:

  • 501c3 nonprofit status
  • Mission that supports a Service site, complex of refuges/hatcheries, or a Service program
  • Partnership formalized in the Friends Partnership Agreement


Focuses where the UWCP will take place and what the boundaries of the program will look like. The boundaries you set will depend on a number of things, including the identified needs (i.e., what you are trying to do) and the capacity you have to do it. Successfully defining the geographic scope means outlining where you will execute program activities. In some cases, it will be a physical line on a map delineating the perimeter of your “work area”; in other cases it will be a broader range description.


A tool to assist Service employees in career and personal development. Its primary purpose is to help employees reach short and long-term career goals, as well as improve current job performance.


The effect of a program/project at a higher or broader level, in the longer term, after a range of outcomes has been achieved. This may include the social, economic, and/or environmental effects or consequences of the program.


Inclusion involves the active, intentional, and ongoing engagement of our diversity, where each person is valued, respected and supported for his or her distinctive skills, experiences and perspectives, to create a working and learning environment where everyone has an opportunity to experience personal fulfillment and participate fully. (Boston College, Office for Institutional Diversity)

Inclusion means welcoming and including a diverse range of people, and having their input and perspectives valued and considered within the context of a collective endeavor. While diversity can be measured in demographic data, inclusion is about process and culture. In general, the more diverse a group, the more challenging inclusion becomes.


Evidence that would be observed when achieving desired outcomes.

They show the outcome has actually happened, or that progress is being made towards it.  They are an expression of what is/will be measured or described; evidence that signals achievement. Indicators answer the question: “How will I know?”

Note: It’s important to choose indicators that provide the specific information, or evidence, that represents the phenomenon you are asking about.


A partner who does not have a written agreement with the Service. Not all partnerships can or should be formalized, and informal partnerships allow us to remain flexible and build partnerships that serve the best interests of all parties.


The resources invested in implementing a program. Examples include: staff time, volunteer time, funding, equipment, materials, and facilities. Inputs are needed to ensure activities can be accomplished and outputs produced.


Interventions are actions taken to improve a situation. They include all of the actions (e.g., activities, tactics, and strategies) to be undertaken in the course of the program/project to bring about the desired short-term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes. An intervention can be as simple as a single activity or as complex as an entire program.


The capacity of an organization and its personnel to communicate effectively, and convey information in a manner that is culturally appropriate and easily understood by diverse audiences, including persons of limited English proficiency, those who have low literacy skills or are not literate, individuals with disabilities, and those who are deaf or hard of hearing (National Center for Cultural Competence).


A graphic representation of a program that shows the relationship between inputs, activities, and outputs and intended outcomes. Logic models also convey the assumptions made about the relationships, revealing the underlying logic behind the program/project; i.e., why it should work.


Outdoor activities in natural settings or otherwise involving in some direct way elements of nature—terrain, plants, wildlife, water bodies.


A geographically localized community within the urban area often referenced by its character or inhabitants.

Sociologist Jackelyn Hwang, a doctoral student at Harvard University has found that neighborhoods and their boundaries have important symbolic meanings. The way residents define their neighborhoods, she writes, turns on “whether or not a group feels that they fit with the identity associated with a space and their strategies to exclude or include others to make the neighborhood identity align with their personal identity.”


A group of statements that precisely describe what you are going to achieve; each statement addresses one and only one achievement. Good objectives meet the “SMART” criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.


Outcomes are the specific changes in program participants’ awareness, knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behavior resulting from program activities and outputs. Outcomes can be wanted or unwanted, expected or unexpected.

Examples of outcomes (wanted and expected) include increased awareness of the role everyday people can play in protecting wildlife habitat, greater knowledge of species needs, improved bird ID skills, and adopting more sustainable practices.

For a particular program, there can be various "levels" of outcomes, with initial outcomes leading to longer-term ones:

  • Short-term (ST) outcomes are changes in the audience or benefits ‘caused’ by the outputs
  • Intermediate-term (or Intermediate) outcomes are changes in the audience that result from an application of the ST outcome
  • Long-term (LT) outcomes follow from the benefits accrued through the Intermediate outcomes


Outputs are the direct products of program activities, usually some sort of tangible deliverable. Some examples:

  • Number of community workshops conducted
  • Number of participants in the workshop
  • Type and quantity of educational/outreach materials produced and distributed
  • Number of meetings held
  • Number of new partnerships established

Note: A program's outputs should produce short-term outcomes for the target audience. Measuring outputs tells us about what we do and who we reach, but NOT what difference we made.


Refers to a voluntary and mutually beneficial collaborative relationship between the Service and one or more partners, built on the contributions of each partner and formed to achieve or assist in moving toward a common goal. Partners bring resources to the relationship that allows the Service, or station, to accomplish objectives that, individually, neither party could achieve. A partnership may involve one partner utilizing another’s unique abilities, or it may be sharing a resource (money, time, knowledge, equipment, etc) to accomplish short- or long-term objectives agreed upon by all participating partners.


Place-based education seeks to connect learners to local environments through a variety of strategies that increase environmental awareness and connectedness to particular parts of the world (Sobel, 2004). At the heart of place-based education is the theme of commitment to a community/region, its history and its future. Ideally, approaches to place-based education address each of these elements in a way that honors the needs of people and community (including the biotic community) as one entity in a reciprocal relationship between people and a place (Orr, 1992).


Everyday language your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it. Plain language does not use technical terms or professional jargon. Using accessible language in communications means that content is presented in a way that is appropriate for the audience you are communicating with, whether through in-person interactions, refuge websites, refuge/program brochures, signs, and other written materials. President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010, requiring agencies to write in plain language.


Antecedents (or requirements) for the subsequent, sequential outcome(s) in a logic model. Preconditions must be met in order for the next logical outcome in the sequence to be achieved (i.e., achievement of short-term outcomes is a precondition to achieving intermediate-term outcomes). Preconditions are identified by asking “What are the conditions that must exist in order for an outcome to be achieved?”


Primary research involves collecting data directly from the real world. Examples include surveys, interviews, observations, and ethnographic research.


Of the 562 existing national wildlife refuges, 101 are considered urban refuges – that is, refuges located within 25 miles of 250,000 or more people. Of those 101, Refuge System regional offices identified the following as priority urban refuges for their region, those where concentrated programming could have the most impact:

Pacific Region: Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, OR; Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, WA.

Southwest Region: Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, NM; South Texas National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Midwest Region: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge; Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, MI.

Southeast Region: Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, LA; Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, FL.

Northeast Region: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, PA; Patuxent Research Refuge, MD.

Mountain-Prairie Region: Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO; Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, UT.

Pacific Southwest Region: Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA; San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex, CA


The overall program/project goal is a broad, aspirational statement about what the program/project ultimately aims to achieve. This high-level goal describes what success looks like, providing a target to shoot for.


Results-oriented performance plans that describe the expectations for the performance required, linking individual accountability to organizational outcomes. Developing employees’ performance plans includes establishing the elements and standards of their performance that are understandable, measurable, verifiable, equitable, achievable, and challenging.


Race is a social construct created on the subjective categorization of individuals based on physical characteristics, such as bone and jaw structure; skin, hair, and eye color (Smedley, & Smedley, 2005). While there are genetic alleles that allow individuals to be correlated to a geographic location, global migration has diminished the accuracy of tying race to a specific gene. However, race is used as a research category which groups people together that may have similar cultural backgrounds and life-experiences.


Secondary research involves the systematic review of existing research rather than primary research. This is different from using secondary data sources for primary research, where you would analyze and interpret these sources. Secondary research involves summarizing what has already been analyzed and interpreted.


The goal of the Urban Wildlife Refuge Program is to engage urban communities as partners in wildlife conservation. Excellence may be achieved through eight standards that serve as a framework for collaboration among the Service and urban communities. The eight standards are:

  1. Know and Relate to the Community
  2. Connect Urban People with Nature via Stepping Stones of Engagement
  3. Build Partnerships
  4. Be a Community Asset
  5. Ensure Adequate Long-Term Resources
  6. Provide Equitable Access
  7. Ensure Visitors Feel Safe and Welcome
  8. Model Sustainability


An individual’s or group’s position (in relation to others) within a hierarchical social structure. Socioeconomic status depends on a combination of variables including occupation, education, income, wealth, and place of residence. It is commonly defined as a measure of one’s combined economic and social status and conceptualized as social standing or class.


Stakeholders, by definition, are individuals or groups of individuals who have an interest, or “stake,” in the outcome of your efforts and/or people whose interests may be affected by your actions. Some may be partners in your effort, some may lend support along the way, some may present an opposing point of view, and some may prove to be target audiences.


A word that has a specific meaning within a specific field of expertise. While each term condenses a mass of information into a single word, it can also lead to language that is difficult to understand, even for the specialized reader.


These terms generally refer to knowledge systems embedded in the cultural traditions of regional, indigenous, or local communities. Traditional knowledge includes types of knowledge about traditional technologies of subsistence (e.g. tools and techniques for hunting or agriculture), midwifery, ethnobotany and ecological knowledge, traditional medicine, celestial navigation, ethnoastronomy, the climate, and others. These kinds of knowledge, crucial for subsistence and survival, are generally based on accumulations of empirical observation and on interaction with the environment.


The term “underserved” deals with the demographic status of and the services that are offered or presented to a particular group. An underserved audience is a segment of the community that is not currently being served by the Service. Traditionally, underserved audiences have been identified as members of minority groups, such as people of color, but it also includes women, individuals with limited financial resources, or a combination of these.

To identify the underserved in your urban area:

  1. Conduct an analysis to determine the demographic characteristics of the population in the area defined as your geographic scope
  2. Determine if program participants are reflective of these demographic characteristics
  3. Determine which segments of the population are not participating in your programs


The region surrounding a human settlement with high population density and infrastructure of built environment such as houses, commercial buildings, roads, bridges, and railways. An urban area includes the city itself, as well as the surrounding areas.


Wayfinding encompasses all of the ways in which people (and animals) orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place. It is a form of spatial problem solving that involves knowing where you are, knowing where your desired location is, and knowing how to get there from your present location.


An approach to conservation planning in which monitoring and evaluation are integrated into a project’s design and management. This kind of approach provides a framework to systematically test assumptions, promote learning, and supply timely information to improve management decisions as the project progresses. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s adaptive management framework is called Strategic Habitat Conservation.


The process of teaching awareness, understanding, and appreciation of our natural and cultural resources and conservation history. Through this process, we can help develop a constituency that has the awareness, knowledge, attitudes, skills, motivation, and commitment to work cooperatively towards the conservation of our Nation’s environmental resources.

Environmental education within the Refuge System incorporates on-site, off-site, and distance learning materials, activities, programs, and products that address the audience’s course of study, refuge purpose(s), physical attributes, ecosystem dynamics, conservation strategies, and the Refuge System mission. (see Policy Chapter 605 FW 6)


A communication process that forges emotional and intellectual connections between the audience and the resource. Interpretation provides opportunities for the audience to make their own connections to the resources and provokes participation in resource stewardship by helping them to understand their relationships to, and impacts on, those resources.

For more on interpretation in the Service see Policy Chapter 605 FW 7


Events that are created and/or led by Service staff that take place on or off  Service lands, like Open Houses, refuge festivals, celebrations.


Events that are created and led by the community like County Fairs, arts events, church events and local festivals.


A formal or informal assembly of individuals to discuss information, issues, problems, and/or make decisions, e.g., town halls, PTA meetings, councils, and youth advocacy meetings.


Culturally valued aspects of the environment that generally include historic properties, other culturally valued pieces of real property, cultural use of the biophysical environment, and such "intangible" sociocultural attributes as social cohesion, social institutions, lifeways, religious practices, and other cultural institutions.

For more information visit: The National Preservation Institute Website