Friends of Outer Island is a volunteer organization working in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group affiliated with the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.
Friends of Outer Island had its beginnings in 2001 when the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge (Jennifer Brown, Assistant Refuge Manager) put out a call for volunteers to form a Friends group. The initial meeting took place on October 22 at the Canoe Brook Senior Center in Branford. Early in 2002 the fledgling group met for the first time and chose officers: Lynn Dorsey (President) and Ginny Baltay (Vice-president); other members attending were Ernie DeSalvatore, Chris Hauge, Bill Anthony, and Paul Donoski . For a long time they were officially known as the Stewart B. McKinney Friends Association Inc., but Friends of Outer Island was commonly used, and the name was officially changed in later years.
We support the National Refuge System. The National Wildlife Refuge System is in crisis. Threats to refuges are growing, while staffing and funding for key conservation programs are diminishing. Friends volunteer their time to assist in the upkeep of the refuge and provide visitor services.
We are a member of the Stewart B. McKinney NWR Coalition, an umbrella organization that advocates for the entire refuge.
Each year the Friends help refuge staff with island maintenance and upkeep. In the past, this has included general debris pickup, pruning, raking, weeding and painting. During the season the weekend volunteers monitor the visitor facilites for safety, cleanliness, and accessibility; they also perform routine maintenance on visitor service facilities such as cleaning and sweeping.
Visitor Services Volunteer
National Wildlife Refuges are set aside primarily to protect wildlife and habitats, but they are also created for the use and enjoyment of the public. These landscapes belong to all of us, and we each have the right to explore refuges responsibly, with an eye to safeguarding them for future generations to enjoy.
Visitor Services Volunteers, or Docents, are individuals who have been trained to provide the public with safe, accessible, and quality wildlife dependent recreational opportunities such as wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education, and interpretation as described in the Refuge Improvement act of 1997.