Open post

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
Open post

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!

Open post

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.

Open post

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)



Open post

Kenai River Cleanup – Sept. 7-9, 2018 (Volunteer Opportunity)

Kenai River Cleanup – Do good, have fun and see more of the Kenai Refuge.  September 7 – 9.  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.

Event begins Friday evening with a potluck and music in the Sportsmen Landing/Russian River Ferry campground.  After a continental breakfast Saturday morning,  teams will either float the river cleaning beaches or clean around the landing, campgrounds and parking areas.  The Kenai Refuge will bring at least one raft to take Friends downriver to clean refuge beaches.  That evening the Alaska Fly Fishers will put on a free BBQ for all participants with prizes!  Sunday at 10, Friends will sponsor a hike on the Hidden Creek Trail off Skilak Lake Road. 

For more information and to sign up, contact Poppy Benson, Outreach  chair, or call (907) 299-0092.  Check out our event co-sponsor’s website.

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

Open post

2018 Dragonfly Day

Trip Report by Friends Volunteer John Hudson, with photos by USFWS/Allyssa Morris

The 8th Annual Dragonfly Day took play on Saturday, June 23rd at Tanana Lakes Recreation Area, 11am-4pm.  Over 350 people attended this event, enjoying a variety of activities including: face painting, dragonfly balloon art, dragonfly temporary tattoos, various arts and crafts, live dragonfly larvae and other aquatic invertebrates in a touch tank, and dragonfly collecting. Participants caught adult dragonflies with nets and held them for a closer look and to learn about their ecology, biology, and life history.  The species list for the day included: Lake Darner, American Emerald, Northern Bluet, Boreal Whiteface, Hudsonian Whiteface, Belted Whiteface, Four-spotted Skimmer, Sedge Sprite, and Taiga Bluet.   

People of all ages fanned out along the shoreline of one of the Tanana Lakes intent on capturing the fast-flying, colorful, and acrobatic dragonflies swarming about. Participants learned that it’s best to “swing from behind” as dragonflies use their huge eyes to see in almost every direction, but rearward. Lucky collectors reached into their nets and pulled the robust and sturdy insects out by hand, allowing them a closeup view of the holographic-like compound eyes, the spine-covered legs, and intricate wing venation. Certainly, everyone went home with a greater appreciation for dragonflies.

This popular event was sponsored by the three Fairbanks refuges: Arctic, Kanuti, and Yukon Flats, as well as the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, US National Park Service, Student Conservation Association, and University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Open post

2018 Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival

Over 1,000 participants joined us in Homer for the 26th Annual Festival: Thursday, May 10th- Sunday, May 13th, 2018.

This Festival is co-sponsored by the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and USFWS/ Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.  Alaska’s largest wildlife viewing festival honors the return of spring and it’s breathtaking bird migration. Homer’s  seaside setting is perfect for spotting over 130 migratory bird species, as well as numerous other resident species.  This event takes a village- the Friends and USFWS coordinated over 70 volunteers and had help from several area organizations such as Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Cook Inletkeeper, Kachemak Bay Research Reserve, Pratt Museum, the Homer Chamber of Commerce, Homer News, and many more!

 Our Keynote Speakers included Noah Strycker and Iain Campbell. Our distinguished guests presented a variety of workshops and lectures, including presentations on Strycker’s new books, Birding Without Borders.  Campbell offered daily photography workshops as well.  This year’s very popular artwork was created by Homer’s own Erin Rae D’Eimon.  Junior Birders learned valuable birding skills during a variety of school-aged themed workshops and presentations.  

(photos by Brandon Hill, Robin Edwards, Carla Stanley)

After our Saturday Keynote Address, Friends Member Dave Aplin, along with the help of some of the audience showed support for protecting the Arctic Refuge, holding handmade signs and completing petitions:


Open post

Battle of Attu 75th Anniversary Commemoration

Friends welcome and assist special guests of the Battle of Attu 75th Anniversary Commemoration

May 2018 marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Attu. The forgotten battle on a wildlife refuge in Alaska was the only ground battle of WWII to take place on American soil. Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge partnered with National Park Service and many other organizations to sponsor and organize three days of free public events at five venues in Anchorage. Alaska Maritime requested Friends advertise on our website for recruitment of volunteers to greet visitors, hand out programs, and escort special guests to reserved seating and deal with any special needs of the guests who included nine Battle of Attu Veterans, Attu Village survivors and descendants, and Japanese soldiers’ descendants. Three Friends members (Chuck Iliff, Tom Choate and I, Betty Siegel) volunteered and worked the full three days to help things run smoothly.

Some highlights included:

  • Meeting and assisting the veterans who ranged in age from 95 to 102 years. They were humble, interesting, funny, and appreciative;
  • Watching the Unangax dancers and hearing the Unifying Peace Messages by the Attu veteran, the grandson of a Japanese soldier, and a Unangan elder at the Loussac Library program;
  • Attending the World Premiere of the documentary “When the Fog Clears,” by award winning Japanese film-maker Tadashi Ogawa, meeting him and talking with him about the film;
  • The Closing Ceremony at the Alaska Aviation Museum. This was a very moving event, especially the presentation of Colors, the Wreath Presentation, and the beautiful renditions of the Japanese Anthem by violinist Hiroko Harada and our National and Alaska anthems by Kyle Schneider.

We three Friends Members were honored to have these and many other wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and fond memories and the opportunity to make the Attu 75th Anniversary Commemoration a success.

(Report submitted by Betty Siegel; photos by Lisa Hupp/USFWS & Betty Siegel)


Posts navigation

1 2 3 4