Looking Forward: Where Do You Hope the Refuge Association Will Be in Another 40 Years?

To continue the celebration of our 40th Anniversary, we have asked U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees, Friends members, and other nonprofit partners to tell us where they hope the National Wildlife Refuge Association will be in another 40 years. We were elated with the positive responses we received.

Keenan Adams, Chief of the Division of Biological Resources in the National Wildlife Refuge System Mountain-Prairie Region: In 40 years, I will reflect about the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area and thank the National Wildlife Refuge Association for being a major catalyst for the Refuge System to look beyond its boundaries.. ”

Kathy Woodward, Secretary of the Friends of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and Vice-Chair of the Refuge Association Board of Directors: “Between now and 2055, Refuges are going to become even more important as models of how people and wildlife benefit each other.  National Wildlife Refuge Association will continue to be the leadership in the middle, between diverse interests and ideas, between the push to use and the need to preserve, and between government requirements and private interests. Keep up the good work.”

Birgie Miller, Executive Director of the ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Society: “We can never predict the future, as life is unpredictable, but we can work toward making what we do right, even better. It is my hope that in another 40 years the National Wildlife Refuge Association will continue to be working collaboratively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other groups and organizations toward protecting even more land and have strong, effective friends groups established in all the Refuges (all 1,000+ of them!)”

Wendi Weber, Regional Director of the Northeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: “I hope to see the National Wildlife Refuge Association continue to engage the public in conservation advocacy to support and protect our incredible wildlife and wild places. In growing urban populations engage all citizens to connect with nature and the great outdoors.”

Bryan Arroyo, Assistant Director for International Affairs at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: “The Refuge Association has laid a great foundation to achieve meaningful conservation successes through a common sense approach and important partnerships both domestically and abroad.  This foundation will serve as the basis for amazing conservation gains in the next 40 years and I am honored to work with the Association and be a participant of those future successes!”

Geoff Haskett, Regional Director of the Alaska Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: “The National Wildlife Refuge Association has been around throughout all of my career and over the last 25 years I’ve had the great opportunity to work very closely with the great folks who work there and the many extraordinary board members who have accomplished so much. There is no better partner and supporter of the National Wildlife Refuge System. I expect that over the next 40 years we will have many many more successes together in protecting our great Refuge System. Thanks Refuge Association!”

Dale Hall, Chief Executive Officer of Ducks Unlimited and former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director: “I offer my hearty congratulations to the National Wildlife Refuge Association for 40 years of great work.  My hope is that 40 years from now the Association can boast that the Refuge System has stayed true to its mission of providing a mosaic of lands that connect vital fish and wildlife resource populations, provides for healthy migration of all species of wildlife and is embraced by the people as a precious family treasure that provides the model of conservation for all to emulate.”

Cheryl Hart, Board President of the Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge: “As we approach the 80th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, we are pleased to note that every National Wildlife Refuge in the universe, including the many that have been created in the past 40 years on planets other than Earth, and each of their Friends groups is an active member of our association. This group is recognized as the premier spokes-group for intergallactic conservation and protection of wildlife in the universe. They have been instrumental in ensuring that protection of the environment was a top priority in each interplanetary colonization that has taken place.”

Lefty Durando, member of the Board of Directors of Partners for Conservation: In 40 years I hope to see the Refuge Association, along with partners and landowners achieve our vision of protecting the Everglades, from north of Lake Okeechobee down to the 10,000 islands and Florida Bay. As a landowner, I believe we can all work together to make this happen, and protect our watershed and  wildlife species such as the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow and the Florida Panther.”

Charles Blair, Midwest Regional Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System: “I see the National Wildlife Refuge Association building on the accomplishments of the first 40 years and adapting with the National Wildlife Refuge System to the challenges of the future. In the next 40 years I hope the National Wildlife Refuge Association will grow in capacity, influence and constituency and have resources and an organizational structure to address complex issues facing the National Wildlife Refuge System. In all, a vibrant, professional, and healthy organization that is seen by all Americans as the “protector” of the National Wildlife Refuge System.”

Beth Goettel, Refuge Manager of Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuges: “I would hope that the National Wildlife Refuge Association would be twice as strong after their second forty years as after their first.  I would hope that all refuge staff would, by then, be members and supporters of the Refuge Association. As a refuge manager, I feel my membership and gifts to the Refuge Association are the most important charitable contributions I make, since they are coming back to directly support the refuges every day!”

Elizabeth Souheaver, Refuge Supervisor for AL, FL, GA, MS, NC, SC of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: “Over the next 40 years, I hope to see the Refuge Association continue their efforts with providing novel and progressive approaches to partner with key liaisons and build coalitions to support refuge initiatives.  The Refuge Association’s new strategies have been quite successful in highlighting the significant and relevant role refuges play within larger landscapes such as Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area which has led to many partnership opportunities and conservation investments in Florida.”

Cynthia Dohner, Regional Director of the Southeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: “Looking back over the past 40 years, there have been many causes for celebration in the Southeast.  The Refuge System’s Centennial at Pelican Island NWR, the extraordinary growth of our Friends Groups in that time from zero to nearly 50 now in place, and periods of time when budgets and funding were really strong.  The establishment of new refuges including most recently those in the Everglades and Western North Carolina also mark great accomplishments for us here in the Southeast.  There have been challenges too.  Periods of static and declining budgets have impacted us as we adjust management and planning. Reflecting on these highs and lows, one constant persists through it all – incredible support from friends and partners.  We would like to thank the National Wildlife Refuge Association for all they have done to support the Southeast Region over the years because they have been with us through it all and are amazing partners!  Our work together is growing to include priority conservation work such as the Region’s At-Risk effort to strengthen conservation activities, keep working lands working and further protect a way of life.  Looking ahead, I am confident that this partnership will continue to grow even stronger as we work together to conserve fish and wildlife and provide opportunities for communities to join us in this southern style of conservation.”

Barry Stieglitz, Project Leader of the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuges: “The National Wildlife Refuge System is facing the heretofore unseen challenge of preserving species through global climatic changes as well as managing habitats on an epic scale in the marine national monuments. To succeed, we need strong partnerships and strong advocates. The Refuge Association is the partner uniquely focused on the Refuge System to sail these waters with us. The Refuges Association’s capacity has grown significantly in the last few years, and I hope continues to do so to help us meet the major challenges of today…and tomorrow.”

Whit Fosburgh, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership: “I want to congratulate and thank the National Wildlife Refuge Association for its 40 years of service and dedication to protecting wildlife refuges in every state across the country. Without the work of the committed staff and volunteers of the Refuge Association, the future of our nation’s wildlife refuges would be in jeopardy. I hope that they can continue their efforts for another 40 years and remain a close ally as we continue fighting to protect America’s natural areas.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2015/06/looking-forward-where-do-you-hope-the-refuge-association-will-be-in-another-40-years/

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