Public outreach around the vision process continues and I’m finding added benefits to engaging other groups and citizens in the discussion about wildlife conservation and vision for the USFWS’s Refuge System. This week Joan, my NWRA colleague, and I met with folks at the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF).

Have you engaged members of your community in the vision dialogue? Are you talking to folks who are not a “traditional” partner and do you have any suggestions for outreach?

What was scheduled to be an hour meeting lasted nearly two. We never really got down to talking about a vision, because like being on a first date it seemed more appropriate to get to know one another than plan a path for the future. But what a great first step to what will hopefully be additional collaboration. NWRA learned more about NEEF’s programs like their Children and Nature Initiative. This program works with health professional to promote getting youth outside and as part of this effort they promote national wildlife refuges, national fish hatcheries and other public entities. There is also their National Public Land Day program, teacher and student supports, and capacity grants for Friends groups.

During the conversation, we discovered how much our organizations have in common. In exchanging information we were continually surprised at how many Friends groups and refuges both organizations had worked with in varying capacities. The take-away is that the vision process can be a great tool for reaching out to groups that are not our traditional partners.

I continue to expand my circle of calls. Diversity is the goal. The challenge is to reach a broad array of constituencies. I’m working on connecting with a variety of groups, for example, those concerned with getting more youth outdoors, expanding natural world opportunities for urban communities, discovering volunteer and work experience options, and engaging in recreational adventures. I am excited about the possibilities.