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Refuge Academy Visitor Services section

Fall, 2011
by

Maggie OConnell

on 31 July 2014

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Transcript of Refuge Academy Visitor Services section

National Wildlife Refuge System
Visitor Services Programs
What do you already know about Visitor Services Programs on National Wildlife Refuges?
Urbanization
Information and Social Media
Visitor Services Standards
1. Develop a Visitor Services Plan.
2. Welcome and Orient Visitors.
3. Provide Quality Hunting.
4. Provide Quality Fishing.
5. Provide Quality Wildlife Observation
and Photography.
6. Develop and Implement Quality Environmental Education.
7. Interpret Key Resources and Issues.
8. Manage for Appropriate
Recreational Uses.
9. Communicate Key Issues with Off-Site Audiences.
10. Build Volunteers and Partnerships
with Refuge Support Organizations.
Compatibility.
Accessibility.
Visitor and resource protection.
Minimize wildlife and habitat disturbance.
Times, seasons, zones, etc.
Minimizing conflicts among and between users.
Follow Service policies.
Quality vs. quantity
Connecting people with the resource.
Awareness to stewardship
Before the visit - websites, brochures
During the visit - kiosks, publications
After the visit - social media
Think about the refuge experience beginning to end.
Annual Review of Hunt Chapter of Visitor Services plan .
Deviate from State regulations only if needed.
Use OMB-approved forms.
Recruitment and retention issues.
Best Practices Workbook for Hunting and Shooting Recruitment and Retention
Deviate from State regulations only if needed.
Use OMB approved forms.
Recruitment and retention issues.
Consumption advisories.
Opening Package for publication in the Federal Register
Opening new species, lands, or opportunities requires advance preparation.
Opening packages are submitted on a regular schedule: due in January for publication the following fall.
See your regional Hunting/Fishing Coordinator for details.
Opportunities to see/photograph key species
Information readily available to users during times they use the station (before and after-hours).
Handbook to Photography on National Wildlife Refuges
Birder Friendly Refuges.
Includes:
on-site, off-site, distance learning; materials, activities, programs
Subjects may include:
Science
Language Arts
Math
Social Studies
Physical Education
Art and Music
"Course of study" is the key ingredient.
pwlc photos by jack pearson
Includes:
Signs, publications, internet, exhibits, programs, video, multi-media, etc.
Most interpretation on refuges is non-personal (not programs)
Information = what?
Interpretation = so what?
Are all uses reviewed for appropriateness and compatibility?
Priority public uses are deemed appropriate by law.
Follow appropriate uses and compatibility guidelines.
Would concessions or other commercial vendors help?
Use fee program to help deliver programs.
Trends
High-tech:
websites, new media, (facebook, twitter), etc.
Low tech:
special events, open houses, public meetings, participation in community events
Building good relationships with neighbors, communities, media, partners, and elected officials.
Identify Refuge issues/situations needing communication strategy (Incident Information Plan).
Volunteers and Refuge Support Groups can provide:
Time for staff to work on high-priority duties.
Talent that paid staff may not have (i.e. shorebird surveys).
In-kind matches (time, labor, etc.).
In-kind or stand alone funding support.
Connections with local communities.
Programming support (i.e. host special events, programs).
Evaluation
Visitor Services Reviews.
Pre- Comprehensive Conservation Planning evaluation: identifies issues.
Every 5-6 years.
Team Approach - get outside eyes/ team members brought together to represent varied perspectives.
Use Visitor Services Evaluation Handbook.
Also addresses fees, concessions, wilderness, and other topics not specifically described in Visitor Services Standards.
Outdoor enthusiasts use technology to connect to the outdoors. More than 60 percent of outdoor enthusiasts ages 18 to 44 use technology to search for information about outdoor recreation.

Outdoor Recreation Participation Report 2010, Outdoor Foundation
Use the CCP to establish direction.
Plan the entire visitor experience.
Identify messages/themes/stories
Identify audiences (existing and potential)
http://www.fws.gov/refuge/muscatatuck/
What's Next?
http://americaswildlife.org/
http://www.facebook.com/americaswildlife
http://twitter.com/americaswild

Implementation Teams
9 teams total
Five with an emphasis on visitors:
Interpretation and Education
Communication
Urban Refuges
Community Partnerships
Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Recreation

Staying involved
https://connect.doi.gov/fws/Portal/nctc/TCH/VS/SitePages/Home.aspx
Recreation
Demographics
http://www.facebook.com/MNvalleyNWR?fref=ts
Full transcript