Friends of Sherburne NWR lead a youth birdwatching tour

National Wildlife Refuge Friends

Friends of Sherburne NWR lead a youth birdwatching tour

The National Wildlife Refuge Friends Program funds projects that assist organizations in being effective co-stewards of important natural resources within the National Wildlife Refuge System. The program's goals are to assist refuge Friends organizations in developing projects, help expand and increase organizational capacity and individual skills, aid meeting local refuge conservation challenges and support building community recognition.


National Wildlife Refuge Friends organizations play an important role in building critical community support for their local National Wildlife Refuges. The National Wildlife Refuge System’s existence is credited to citizens eager to protect America's natural resources, and refuge Friends organizations continue this legacy.

There are now more than 180 Friends groups supporting National Wildlife Refuges. Friends organizations are crucial to the collective mission of the Refuge System and, along with other volunteers, accomplish approximately 20 percent of all work on National Wildlife Refuges, which is the equivalent of 648 full-time employees.

Funding priorities for this program include:

  • ​Nonprofit Capacity Building Grants: Provide funds to assist recently founded refuge Friends organizations with formative or initial operational support. Funds are also provided to existing refuge Friends organizations for activities that enhance an organization’s ability to achieve its mission and sustain itself over time.
  • Project Specific Grants: Provide funds to refuge Friends organizations seeking support for projects initiated and managed by the Friends in support of the refuge.
  • Peer-to-Peer Coaching: Provide funds to refuge Friends organizations that propose to coordinate and execute a Friends peer-to-peer coaching event for a minimum of four other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Friends organizations.

Since 1998, the National Wildlife Refuge Friends Program has provided more than 548 awards totaling more than $2.8 million in federal and private funds. While matching contributions are not required of these grantees, more than $3 million has been contributed towards these projects.

Application Information

07/22/2020 2020 Request for Proposals - CLOSED View Now
12/03/2019 Program Fact Sheet Download the PDF
12/03/2019 NWR Friends Program Impact 1998-2018 Download the PDF
12/10/2019 Sign Up for Our Mailing List View Website
12/03/2019 2019 Grant Slate Download the PDF
12/03/2019 2018 Grant Slate Download the PDF
01/27/2020 2017 Grant Slate Download the PDF
Staff Representatives

Coordinator, Community Stewardship Programs

Manager, Pollinator Programs