Environmental and Wildlife Advocacy
Locally and statewide, the Friends group is a voice for environmental conservation, wildlife protection, and biodiversity. Through our representation in the Everglades Coalition, we are active participants on issues related to the health and restoration of the Everglades and its habitat, and supporting positions taken by the Coalition. We consider ourselves to be the citizen keepers of the Northern Everglades, and want people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds to experience the magic of nature and the outdoors at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.
Education for All Ages
As the first National Wildlife Refuge Friends organization in the nation, our educational roots run deep. Education has been a primary theme throughout our history, with numerous scientists and naturalists contributing to the board and its initiatives. A key contribution to the Refuge has been the funding of an educational outreach position to assist US Fish & Wildlife staff with school-age education, introducing kids to the science and wonder of the Everglades. Our volunteers also provide guided tours of the Refuge grounds to visitors of all ages.
Our revitalized Fundraising Committee is launching an effort to modernize, starting with a strategic fundraising plan. Areas of focus will be improving our data infrastructure with a new CRM system; optimizing the website with easier opportunities to donate; developing social media fundraising campaigns; corporate sponsorship of member events; and enhancing donor stewardship and engagement.
Our membership team is responsible for ensuring that members‘ experiences are smooth and positive. This is another area of our work that is being modernized with technology, while maintaining the personal touch that has been a hallmark of the organization over the decades.
Managing and Staffing the Nature Store
The Nature Store in the Visitor Center is entirely managed and staffed by the Friends board and volunteers. Profits are used to directly fund improvements at the Refuge. Our focus is primarily on Everglades-related and branded merchandise, with something for all ages in a variety of price ranges. Long-term, we hope to hire a salaried store manager who will be responsible for the daily functions of ordering, accounts payable and receivable, and managing Nature Store volunteers. An ONLINE Nature Store will be added to our website in 2021.
Our popular Everglades Day(s) in February are evolving from a one-day extravaganza to a multi-day, series of events. The Refuge is now considered an Urban Refuge, one of only 14 in the country, and a primary focus will be on underserved youth in the surrounding communities. A concerted outreach effort to schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Recreation departments in local communities is being conducted to assess interest in partnering with us. Moving forward, there will be on-site events for children featuring kids fishing clinics, archery, crafts, and games. Adults will be offered a series of lectures, guided tours, demonstrations, perhaps a fishing tournament, and more.