Projects / Programs

Friends Programs and Services

Since the Friends of the Heinz Refuge (FOHR) was formed in 1997, we have made a significant difference in the development of the Heinz Refuge’s biological and public use programs. We have brought in over $50,000 in grant funding for habitat restoration, trail building, and educational programs.

What We Do

Manage a nature shop in the Education Center which carries a wide selection of merchandise that reflects the natural biodiversity of the region. Net proceeds from nature shop sales help the Fish & Wildlife Service fund their ongoing educational and public use programs.

Sponsor a photo group. Local photographers document Refuge events and wildlife activity. Images are used for Refuge promotion and information materials, with photographer permission and appropriate credit. Members meet quarterly on the fourth Sunday in January, April, July and October, at 10 a.m. The Photo Group hosts wildlife photography workshops and organizes the annual Heinz Refuge Photo Contest, with winners announced in September. Congratulations to the 2012 Photo Contest winners (PDF).

Sponsor a Trail Tamers Group. Throughout the year, rain or shine, “Second Saturday” work parties perform trail maintenance activities, build or repair boardwalks, benches, and blinds, remove invasive species, and work on habitat restoration projects.

Foster Environmental Education. Volunteers and Refuge staff collaborate to provide area educators with the information, skills, and resources necessary to incorporate environmental education into their classrooms. We encourage students, Scouts, and community groups to visit the Refuge and learn about the important natural resources it provides to wildlife. Our children’s Pollinator Garden connects kids to nature, engaging them in a wide variety of projects from planting shrubs to observing butterflies nectar on wildflowers. We sponsor myriad environmental education programs in partnership with PA Young Birders, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Pennsylvania Audubon, and many more. Materials provided include hands-on speakers and demonstrations, classroom and meeting space, guided field trips, internships, in-service opportunities, volunteer training, and more.

Host the annual Big Sit to kick-off National Wildlife Refuge Week. The second Sunday of each October heralds the beginning of National Wildlife Refuge Week and the Big Sit at Heinz Refuge. This annual, international event includes about 200 teams of enthusiastic birders gathered together in their favorite locations to identify as many bird species as possible from one 17-foot diameter circle. Stationed at the Observation Tower from dawn until dusk, the “Big Sittas” from Heinz Refuge annually welcome over 100 visitors throughout the day, and have observed a cumulative total of 107 bird species over several years! Visit the Big Sit page for more details. All are invited to join us at anytime throughout the day. No special skills necessary: just bring a friendly word and an appreciation for the amazing wildlife at Heinz Refuge. their passion for the environment in their daily lives.

Sponsor the Heinz Refuge Conservation Award. The Heinz Refuge Conservation Award was created to recognize the efforts of those who seek to learn more about the cultural, historical, and environmental importance surrounding Heinz Refuge, and who seek to apply their passion for the environment in their daily lives. Visit the Conservation Award page to learn more.

Host the Weed Warriors online training program. The mission of the JHNWR Weed Warriors is to enrich wildlife habitat within the Refuge by participating in the restoration of native plant communities. Weed Warriors recognize that these native plant communities are vital to supporting a rich and diverse population of native wildlife including more than 300 species of birds. Weed Warriors remove invasive plant species in plots they have adopted or along refuge trails.

Our Accomplishments

  • Assisted in the planning and funding of the Refuge Environmental Education (EE) Center.
  • Through grant funding, restored native species habitat in the field near the entrance road and in the field behind the EE Center viewing area.
  • Through grant funding, provided for a wetland restoration feasibility study done by the Delaware Riverkeepers, which was then implemented in the restoration of new wetlands on the refuge;
  • Along with refuge staff, planned, funded and implemented a wheelchair-accessible nature trail.

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