Why I Love Fundraising For The National Wildlife Refuge Association

I am one of the luckiest people in the world.

Almost six months ago, I accepted a dream job. It was an opportunity that most people are unable to attain. In March of 2019, I accepted the Director of Development position at the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Most people don’t quite understand why I love fundraising. They assume most of it is asking random people for money (which it can be sometimes). But it also involves building personal relationships with some of the most interesting people in this country, sharing the passion of the mission represented, and a little bit of research. 

A photo I took at Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge in California during my visit. — Courtney Lewis / Refuge Association

A photo I took at Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge in California during my visit. — Courtney Lewis / Refuge Association

During my first six months at the National Wildlife Refuge Association, I have had the pleasure of traveling all across Florida, Vermont, and California, and next week I will be in Maine. Not only have I met with some of the most passionate funders, I have also had the opportunity to travel to national wildlife refuges to meet with National Wildlife Refuge System staff and Friends groups. This is what truly gives me the motivation to fundraise. 

Every national wildlife refuge I visit is completely different than the next. And every refuge has that secret gem that makes it unique. Being able to see the wildlife (some include endangered species), breath in the fresh air, and stare out into the beautiful scenes of nature, reinvigorates me, and helps me understand what I am fundraising for. Every refuge staff member reminds me why I love my job. The passion, excitement, and complete dedication to their single refuge shows me what it means to find a job that is truly meaningful. Unfortunately though, the refuge staff also explains how severely underfunded the National Wildlife Refuge System is and how it affects their refuge.

They tell me all of the projects they wish they could do, the specialty jobs they need to hire, and how much all of this could change and make their Wildlife refuge better. That’s where I come in. At the National Wildlife Refuge Association, I fundraise for us so that we can advocate on Their Behalf.

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I fundraise so that we can do everything in our power to get them the resources they need. The Refuge System and each national wildlife refuge is an individual treasure that deserves the funding to make it even better. Listening to these stories from refuge staff and being able to see it in person gives me the motivation to be better at my job. 

After my visit in Maine next week, I will have seen over ten refuges in just the six months of my job at the National Wildlife Refuge Association, and I look forward to hopefully being able visit the other 557 out there. This is why I love my job fundraising for the National Wildlife Refuge Association, and why I’ve discovered this new love and passion for the National Wildlife Refuge System.