Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Connecting with Nature in 2013

Students enjoyed an outdoor trail walk on ESA Day with
Connecting People with Nature.
Credit: Nick Jeremiah/NOAA
As you may know, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Connecting People with Nature team has one overarching goal – To connect people with nature. As a team, we are nature enthusiasts who enjoy talking to people, being outside, and encouraging others to join us. Digging (pun intended) deeper into that goal, we especially aim to reach youth, and other groups who don’t spend much time outside. What you may not be as aware of is how we make this goal a reality from behind the scenes.

Each year, the Connecting People with Nature Team receives funding from the National Conservation Training Center in Washington, D.C. to help connect people with nature. We ask employees from around the Pacific Region (Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington) to apply for a portion of this grant money to fund projects that help educate, engage and employ different groups in nature and the conservation of nature. At the end of our fiscal year (right around the months of October/November) USFWS groups from around the region submit project proposals, and by the beginning of the new year, funds are distributed and the real "connecting" begins!

Salmon in the Classroom, a project supported by a Connecting People
with Nature grant.
Credit: USFWS
When it comes to being selected to receive these funds – a bit of creativity, a helping hand from partners and a lot of hard work are what it takes! We want to make sure our dollars go as far as possible in the most efficient and successful way. Therefore a thorough review process assures that projects that receive funding fulfill our most important goals: 1. Reaching youth and underserved audiences, 2. Supporting conservation and education, 3. Providing internships, volunteer opportunities and employment 4. Working with partners and 5. Developing successful and measurable results. Now, if you aren’t very familiar with grant proposals and funding and all that scientific and economic jargon, I will share with you five of the projects that were funded for 2013 from around our region!

Hakalau Forest NWR
Credit: David Patte/USFWS
Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge (NWR): Youth Climate Change/Forest Phenology Project with University of Hawaii - Workshops for Students and Teachers
  •  Project is led by Refuge Manager, Jim Kraus.
  • Focus is on bringing Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island youth and low income families to the remote Hakalau Forest NWR on the island of Hawaii.
  • Funding for the project will help the Refuge to employ two training workshops for local high school biology teachers empowering them to carry on the curriculum and trips to the refuge for years to come.
  • Working with partners including local schools, USDA Forest Service, USGS and more, this project will connect local youth with their species, ecosystems and habitats in their natural communities.

Bird watching with Team Naturaleza at Leavenworth Bird Festival.
Credit: El Mundo Communication
"Team Naturaleza" Citizen Science Program - Education Program Coordination
  • Team Naturaleza is a group in Leavenworth, Washington dedicated to connecting the Latino community with science and nature.
  • This bilingual program will employ a trusted Latino Community Liason to connect fellow community members with nature through cultural traditions.
  • Team Naturaleza is comprised of a creative group of nature lovers who will utilize activities like nature walks, arts, birding and citizen science projects to engage and educate the local Latino community.

Students spending the day spawning at Little White Salmon NFH
Credit: Little White Salmon NFH/USFWS
Columbia Gorge National Fish Hatchery (NFH) Summer Youth Employment Program
  • This project is led by Cheri Anderson, a member of our CPWN Team who works out of the Columbia River Gorge National Fish Hatchery Complex.
  • The project's goal is to provide work experience to youth between the ages of 14 and 18 in Skamania County, Washington working with USFWS employees at the fish hatchery.
  • Partnering with the Stevenson Carson School District’s Forest Youth Success program, this summer project will help educate diverse groups of local youth on fish habitat and conservation while providing them hands-on experience in ecology, biology, hydrology and so much more.

Photo of a hermit crab, called dukduk on Guam. This photo was taken
by 11-year-old Faith, as part of a photo contest. One of the many
examples of engagement we will see from this project.
Credit: Guam NWR/USFWS
Guam National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Threatened & Endangered Species Program Outreach – Intern
  • This year, the Guam NWR celebrates its 20th year, and they will be celebrating by sharing the spirit of conservation.
  • This project will employ a summer outreach intern to help plan, promote and carry out a number of events celebrating the Refuge's 20 years of conservation.
  • The student intern will travel around to local k-12 schools and colleges offering free presentations on threatened & endangered species, conservation and biology while showcasing 20 years of great conservation efforts at Guam NWR.
  • This event will also engage the community through creative activities such as a native species art contest.

Keeping an "eye on nature" at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Credit: Ingrid Barrentine/Joint Base Lewis-McChord
"Eye on Nature" Youth STEM Studies - Teacher and Student training/field trips
  • "Eye on Nature" is a full-circle, four-part program led by Sheila McCartan, Education Coordinator at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
  • The goal of this program is to educate local and tribal students (grades 3-10) and teachers about the mission of USFWS Refuges and the significance of Nisqually NWR.
  • The project will first train students on observational skills and conservation strategies. After this training, field trips to the refuge will be provided where teachers and students will test out and better the skills they learned in the classroom. After returning, the teachers and students will participate in post-field trip lessons which will include analysis of data gathered during their trip.
  • This project will help to give students hands on experience in the field of conservation, and bring these exciting activities back to their classrooms.


  1. This is really nice post. You take some wonderful picture.

  2. the picture of this post very beautiful and it is a nice post.
    fish puns

  3. This a great way to learn student about nature. If they like nature, feel nature then they will work for it to safe. You have visited a wonderful place. Thank you so much for sharing such a good tour.

  4. People and nature all time one to other. You are doing a great job. If we love nature and save nature it will be helpful for safety for us.

  5. Connecting with nature is the best way to learn to love and how wonderful it is, how necessary it is for our survival and the planet.
    Taking such initiatives is a great way to educate and provide values ​​of humanity.
    Best regards.