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Togiak Refuge 5k Salmon Color Run

Togiak National Wildlife Refuge partnered with the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation in the Annual 5K Salmon Color Run held this year on Saturday, July 27th in Dillingham, Alaska.  There were 203 registrants for the free event which featured free t-shirts emblazoned on the back with the meaning of each color – one for each featured health and wellness topic.  For example, green is for smoking cessation. 

Walkers and runners were able to view informational signs along the route with health facts that incorporated Refuge and outdoor themes.  For example, in the red section for substance abuse avoidance, there was a sign showing hikers on Togiak Refuge and the message is “Get a Natural High – Visit a National Wildlife Refuge!”

At the end of each section, walkers and runners were doused with colored corn starch powder that showed up well on the predominantly white t-shirts.  After completing the course, participants were treated to free fruit provided by the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, along with plenty of fresh water to drink.

Togiak Refuge Artist-in-Residence Penny Creasy provided an art activity for young people before the run officially began at 1:00 pm.  Penny donated one of her prints of a sleepy bear (she completed the original in pastel) and the drawing for the print was won by a young Haven Mae Chapman.
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2019 Dragonfly Day

The 9th annual Dragonfly Day was a huge success. The all-outdoor event was held on a warm and sunny day and welcomed 481 attendees to Tanana Lakes Recreation Area. Attendees were able to meet co-author of Dragonflies of Alaska, John Hudson. John led nature walks and shared tips on how to catch dragonflies using an aerial net. Some of the common species caught included the Boreal Whiteface, Lake Darner, and Alaska’s state insect, the Four-spotted Skimmer.

After catching and identifying dragonflies, participants had an array of activities and games to choose from including Dragonfly Twister, dragonfly q-tip art, face painting, or taking a photo with Puddles the Blue Goose at the photo booth.

The Fairbanks Market Grocery and Deli donated an array of fruits and vegetables for youth to make their own dragonfly-inspired snack! Friends Joseph Morris and Moira O’Malley were on site answering questions regarding Friends memberships and projects. Joseph and Moira also sold Dragonflies of Alaska field guides. All proceeds from the sale of the field guide was donated to the Friends group from John Hudson.

Blue Flame food truck was on site with food for purchase. This event was made possible by the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, Fairbanks North Star Parks and Recreation, National Park Service, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Fairbanks Co-op Market Grocery and Deli. Hope to see you at Dragonfly Day 2020!
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CANCELLED-Get Involved: Kenai River Clean-up, September 6 – 8, 2019

ATTENTION: The Kenai River clean up event is cancelled due to the Swan Lake Fire.

Do good, have fun and see more of the Kenai Refuge.  September 6-8.  Sportsmen’s Landing, Cooper Landing. 

Friends will join Alaska Fly Fishers in doing an end of season clean-up of Sportsmen Landing, and downstream beaches all of which are on the Kenai Refuge.  This is our second year partnering with the Fly Fishers, the Kenai Watershed Forum, the Refuge and the Forest Service on this event.  We had such a great time last year what with raft trips, free food, and live music,  we are making it an annual event. See our trip report from last year here.

Arrive Friday evening and set up your trailer or tent in the Sportsman Landing campground reserved just for this event.  Saturday morning, after a continental breakfast, teams will either float the river cleaning beaches or clean around the landing, campgrounds and parking areas.  The Kenai Refuge will bring several boats to take Friends downriver to clean refuge beaches.  That evening the Alaska Fly Fishers will put on a BBQ for all participants with prizes and live music!  Sunday morning, breakfast is followed by a Friends sponsored hike on a yet to be determined trail in the Skilak Lake Road area  

For more information and to sign up, contact Tim Shipman, trip coordinator, at or call (907) 252-8450

This promises to be a very fun event that will continue to help build an alliance with the Fly Fishers, Kenai Watershed Forum, the refuge, and other partners.

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2019 Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival Recap

Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges and Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge co-sponsored the 27th Annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival in Homer, Alaska, May 9-12, 2019. The combination of new Coordinator Mallory Primm and outgoing Coordinator Robbi Mixon was magical! Registration was up by over 100 participants from the previous year and the Keynote speaker, Jennifer Ackerman, sold out for both talks and her workshop. Mark Omascik shared his new book on the Battle of Attu and feature presenters Raymond VanBuskirkand the Tropical Birding Crew led field trips and talks. The stunning artwork by Valisa Higman sold for a record bid, along with over 30 donated 6×6 Alaskan bird art pieces and trips. Much of our merchandise sold out quickly – stop by Islands and Ocean in Homer to see what’s left. Around 100 volunteers donated their time and talents to make this event successful along with the huge contributions of many sponsors and supporters.

Congrats to Mallory on her first year as coordinator, and to Robbi on her last!

We hope you’ll save the date for next year’s event: May 7-10, 2020!

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Fairbanks Art Crowd Loves Refuges – 4th Annual Art in the Arctic

Event report filed by Poppy Benson, Friends Vice President

Art in the Arctic in its 4th year was a big hit once again drawing a younger and diverse crowd of 250 on March 7.  Friends cosponsored this art show showcasing works highlighting the three northern refuges – Arctic, Yukon Flats, and Kanuti.  This year’s theme was “Public Lands – Open to all Americans to Use and Enjoy“.  Various works portrayed hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, river-floating, photography, sightseeing and other uses of public lands.  Eight artists were selected to exhibit in the show which will be up for the entire month at the popular coffee house and art gallery, VENUE, located at 514 – 2nd Avenue Fairbanks, Alaska.  Mediums ranged from wood carvings to oil to photography, fabric art, and large-scale watercolors.  It was a lovely evening with great food, good messaging about the refuge system and high visibility for the three refuges.  Featured artists included Lindsay Carron who has completed two Artist in Residence programs at the Arctic Refuge as well as spent time on the Yukon Delta Refuge.  Special Tee shirts were created for the event – one Art in the Arctic Tee and one – Find Your Refuge Tee.  Both are available for sale online and 10% of the proceeds go to Friends.  

Fairbanks Friend Jeff Walters and Homer Friends Poppy Benson and Frank Cloyd were on hand to greet and orient attendees and recruit for Friends.  Several new members signed up at this event and at the Alaska Bird Conference which was also held in Fairbanks earlier in the week.  At the end of the week, plans were afoot for a face to face meeting of Fairbanks Friends during our April 16 monthly membership meeting.  Contact Poppy Benson, for more details.

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Togiak NWR Bird Feeder Building (Nov. 2018)

Thank you and the Friends group for the contribution to the Togiak NWR Bird Feeder Building project this year. We had great fun with the kids and the adults too. Through these community events, we hope to educate people about our hardy winter birds and inspire interest in citizen science projects like Feeder Watch and the Christmas Bird Count. We held the event on the weekend before Thanksgiving and it was well attended.
In the first photo, you can see a handout we made picturing the most common feeder birds in Dillingham and a baggie of birdseed with the Friends and the Fish and Wildlife logos. These were included with each feeder kit. For the littlest kids, we provided a pinecone finger painting project with some creamy peanut butter as the artistic media. Most of the peanut butter ended up on the pinecones as planned to stick the seeds in place.

A creative outlet with some brightly colored paint and tablecloths always help brighten spirits on winter days, as does watching feeder birds from a cozy spot inside a warm house.

Thank you again for your contribution to this event. It was enjoyed by all!

Warm Regards,
Kara Hilwig, Pilot/Biologist
Togiak National Wildlife Refuge
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Selawik Art Night and Open House – Fall 2018

Selawik National Wildlife Refuge: Art Night & Open House, October 17, 2018 

In celebration of Refuge Week, we hosted an Art Night and Open House event. About 25-30 people of mixed ages young children, teenagers, parents, and elders, attended. We hosted activities like plant printing on stationery, acrylic painting on small canvases, and “blind drawing” of various items (antlers, skulls, etc.). Many of the people in attendance had never been in our office before. One of the National Park Service seasonal staff assisted us with the event as well. We greatly appreciate the refreshments that Friends provided—everyone in attendance enjoyed them!

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2018 National Wildlife Refuge Week

It’s celebration time! 

National Wildlife Refuge Week, observed the second full week of October each year, celebrates the great network of lands and waters that conserves and protects Americans’ precious wildlife heritage.

The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provides vital habitat for thousands of native species, including sandhill cranes, bison and sea turtles.  Refuge Week is a wonderful time to discover the outstanding recreational opportunities available on national wildlife refuges. Tens of millions of Americans visit refuges each year to enjoy fishing, hunting, hiking and wildlife watching.

Wildlife refuges also improve Americans’ comfort and safety by curbing flood risk and wildfire damage, providing cleaner air and water, and supporting local communities. Refuges generate $2.4 billion per year and more than 35,000 jobs to regional economies.

The Refuge System includes 567 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts covering more than 100 million acres of lands.

Check out these awesome events going on around the state at Alaska’s 16 National Wildlife Refuges:

Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge
10/25 – Thursday:  9am Welcome Brunch for Friends and refuge staff at Islands and Ocean.  Join us to welcome Ray Hudson and his wife to Homer and enjoy an opportunity to socialize with them, refuge staff and other Homer area Friends.  Please RSVP to

6pm Talk, Reading, Book Signing and Reception:  “Fact, Fable, and Natural History; Writing about the Aleutians with Ray Hudson” – Enjoy a talk by author and long time Aleutian educator Ray Hudson.  Hudson lived in Dutch Harbor for more than 20 years and knew the old generation of Aleuts documenting their culture in Moments Rightly Placed.  Hudson will speak and read from his newest book, Ivory and Paper: Adventures In and Out of Time, followed by a book signing with an opportunity to purchase books and a reception hosted by Friends.

Arctic, Kanuti and Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuges
10/18 – Thursday
4 to 6 pm, Art Talk: A week (and More) on Beaver Creek Wild and Scenic River-  Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center.   Artists in Residence Margo Klass and Frank Soos will share their art and experiences from a float trip on Beaver Creek  last summer.  A portion of their journey was on Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge and the event celebrates both National Wildlife Refuge Week and the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.  Soos is a former Alaska Poet Laureate and Klass is a mixed medium artist who often incorporates fish skins in her work.  A reception sponsored by Friends will follow.

10/20 – Saturday
2 to 4 pm, Super Saturday – The Fairbanks Children’s Museum.  Free with museum admission ($8)  Kids will make nature cards, explore furs and skulls, jump in a canoe and learn about the Arctic Refuge.  Friends is funding the supplies.

Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge – Events All Week
10/16 Tuesday
Noon-1pm: Opening Reception. Stop by our Visitor Center to enjoy coffee and cookies, meet our Refuge managers, and check out a photography exhibit of landscapes by Jeff Jones and wildlife by the local Kodiak Camera Club.

10/17 Wednesday:
10:30 am – 11:15 pm: a special refuge themed FUN program for little nature lovers and their families.
5 pm-7 pm: Nature Journaling with Shelly – explore nature with your creative side!

10/18 Thursday:
Noon-1pm: Year of the Bird: The 2018 Photo Log of a Kodiak Bird Biologist with Robin Corcoran

10/20 Saturday:
2pm-3pm Movie and popcorn! Take a visual tour through Alaska Wildlife Refuges with a series of short films.

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2018 Virtual Arctic Bird Fest

The first ever Arctic Refuge Virtual Bird Festival took flight during the last week of September – a digital celebration of migratory marvels in the far north. Every summer, thousands of birds travel from around the world to nest and raise their young in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. By fall, they are on the move again. Maybe you’ve seen them pass through your backyard pond or stop over on your local beach – they connect us all as they move along all five flyways. Yet few have witnessed the summer bloom of life that happens in the far Arctic tundra during the short summer season.  

The virtual festival brought this northern nursery to an online audience through photos, video, activities, and stories from several different organizations. US Fish and Wildlife Service partnered with the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, Audubon Alaska, Manomet, and Alaska Geographic to share content across many social media platforms at the local, regional, and national level. Festival participants “met” by responding to an event page on the Arctic Refuge Facebook account: more than 650 attended via the event page, and the 68 event posts reached almost 18,000 people. Partners also took to Twitter, Instagram, Steller Stories, and Medium, with engaging and educational stories of birds, science, and the refuge. 

This jam-packed week connected new audiences with the birds that call Arctic National Wildlife Refuge home. If you missed out in September, we invite you to explore the festival on your own time and find your connection to this special place: 

Arctic Refuge Virtual Bird Festival Facebook Event (go to “Discussion” to view posts) – link below
Stories about the place, the birds, the people:

Twitter Highlights

Video Playlist


 (filed by Lisa Hupp/ USFWS)



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