Looking Back: Growth of the Organization

To celebrate our 40th anniversary this year, we are publishing a “Looking Back” series of blogs. Each edition will feature a different person who was involved with the organization at different stages over our 40 year history. For our second edition, we are featuring lifetime member, Jim Hubert. Click here to read the first edition with Ed Crozier.

Jim Hubert is a lifetime member of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. He’s been with us since our beginnings in 1975, and has seen our organization’s evolution over the years, from scrappy start-up to “quite the professional organization.”

Back in 1975, Hubert was working in the Washington, D.C. office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. During a recent phone interview, Hubert recalled those first years.

One of the first Blue Goose Flyers printed in July 1982
One of the first Blue Goose Flyers printed in July 1982

According to Hubert, the Refuge Association began as more of a “back door” organization with just a few members trying to support the National Wildlife Refuge System. Few people knew the organization. Back then, Hubert recalled, it wasn’t popular among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administration for employees to be members of the Refuge Association, some of whom saw the Refuge Association as a threat. At the time, the National Wildlife Refuge System was not the Service’s top priority and many employees were not used to having an outside group advocate for it.

But, Hubert said, over time the Service hierarchy got more comfortable with the idea of a non-profit advocating for the Refuge System, and realized they too could take part in helping lift refuges. And with time, the Refuge Association’s reputation grew. Today, it is recognized as a leader in the conservation field.

Hubert also noted that the Refuge Association’s mission goes beyond just the Refuge System and really supports the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. While Hubert said that he personally still would like to see the National Wildlife Refuge System become it’s own agency separate from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, saying he thinks this autonomy would be a huge benefit to the Refuge System, he also recognizes that the Refuge Association has built a strong, trusting relationship with the agency which has benefited us all.

As for the future? Hubert expects the Refuge Association’s growth to continue.

“Forrest Carpenter (the Refuge Association’s first president) would be proud of being essential to the organization getting started and would be proud of the fact that it has become so significant in general conservation matters and also in the support of the Refuge System,” Hubert said, adding that he hopes to see the organization expand its advocacy on behalf of the wide array of management and environmental issues facing the Refuge System.


Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2015/05/looking-back-growth-of-the-organization/

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