March 21st, 2014

Refuge System Offers Revitalized Mentoring Program

Refuge System Offers Revitalized Mentoring Program

The new Friends Partnership Mentoring Program envisions 30 events a year, with each of the nation’s approximately 220 Friends partnerships involved in one mentoring session in about every seven years. Increased funding and greater participation at the local level of the U.S. fish and Wildlife Service will achieve this dramatic increase in mentoring.  

Under the new plan, mentoring will focus on:

  • Core management of the Friends organization (obtaining 501c3 status, developing bylaws and a board, fiscal operations, meeting effectiveness);
  • Defining roles, responsibilities and scope of the partnership between a Friends organization and refuge staff;
  • Dealing with board and staff change; and
  • Revitalizing a partnership in decline or in danger of collapse.

The new program will strengthen Friends partnerships by building relationships and sound business practices between Friends organizations and National Wildlife Refuge System staff.

Under the new plan, there will be a standardized, online mentoring application. Mentor pairs will include one Service staff person and one Friends member. Fifteen pairs of mentors will receive training and commit to a three-year term, including two mentor visits annually for the first two years and then coaching new mentors during the third year.

In addition to traditional mentor site visits, there will be more peer-to-peer coaching between Friends groups; annual orientation sessions for Friends and staff; and expanded use of such online tools as, online training through webinars and webcasts and the Friends National Wildlife Refuges Facebook group.

The new plan addresses a recommendation from the Refuge System’s Conserving the Future vision to “develop and nurture active and vibrant Friends groups or community partnerships for every staffed refuge or refuge complex.” 

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