PLATINUM2024

Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

Oak Harbor, OH   |  http://www.friendsofottawanwr.org/

Mission

Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 1997 that supports the conservation mission Ohios only national wildlife refuge complex by acquiring land, engaging the community and enhancing public access.

Ruling year info

2000

Executive Director

Aimee Arent

Main address

14000 OH-2 (State Route 2)

Oak Harbor, OH 43449 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Association

EIN

34-1904821

NTEE code info

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Fresh water is a finite resource. We are working to protect it. The Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Complex is located along the southern shore of Lake Erie, the 11th largest lake in the world. The Great Lakes contain about 20% of the world's fresh water but they are in jeopardy. The wetlands of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge play a critical role in the Lake Erie ecosystem, acting as the kidneys of the landscape; working to protect NW Ohio's drinking water, work, and leisure. Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge works to support Ohio's only national wildlife refuge complex through fundraising and volunteerism so that we can be the change that our landscape deserves.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Refuge Support- Special Projects

Support the refuge with maintenance and restoration projects, purchase of equipment, and volunteer support.
Special projects include building fishing, paddling, and hunting access points and improving trails for public use.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Provide transportation to bring school children to the refuge

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Establish a career ladder by moving youth through three levels of environmental stewardship positions:
-Level 1: Short term service projects. We offer a stipend for youth participating in day or week long conservation stewardship projects.
-Level 2: 13 week internships. We provide stipends for 6-10 interns per year who assist refuge staff in the areas of maintenance, operations, biology, environmental education, visitor services & law enforcement.
-Level 3: Year long contract positions. We offer 1-2 outstanding Level 2 interns opportunity for advancement into a role with more responsibility and stability.

Population(s) Served
Young adults

One of Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge's long term goals is to establish a $500,000 Land Acquisition and Restoration Fund. This fund will allow us to aid the refuge with the purchase of land from willing property owners and restoration of existing refuge parcels from Toledo to the Sandusky Bay.

The Friends purchased their first two parcels of land in 2019, totaling 40.57 acres. These parcels will be restored in tandem with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to forested, grassland, and wetland habitats.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Public Lands Partnership Award 2021

Public Lands Alliance

Nonprofit Excellence Award 2021

Greater Toledo Community Foundation

National Wildlife Refuge Friends Group of the Year 2023

National Wildlife Refuge Association

Nonprofit of the Year Prism Award 2023

Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce

10 Year Award for the Intern Program 2023

Port Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total number of volunteer hours contributed to the organization

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Refuge Support- Special Projects

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of acres of land protected

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Land Acquisition

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This is the number of acres of land the Friends group has purchased and conserved. 69 acres have officially become part of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Number of clients placed in internships

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Young adults

Related Program

Career Pathways Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

This metric shows the number of college interns we have each year.

Percentage of donors retained each year

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

This is our annual donor retention rate. By building strong relationships with our members and donors, we are honored to retain 63% of these funders each year.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

1. We will build a dynamic organization that is a durable and sustainable Friends group. The Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge will be a strong organization with sufficient human and financial capacity to achieve our mission, vision, goals and objectives.

2. We will make major contributions to the long-term health and vibrancy of the Refuge and its management. The Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge provides substantial support for Refuge operations and for organizing and funding a variety of programs and projects.

3. We will increase the size of the refuge in accordance with the Comprehensive Conservation Plan. The Refuge will grow with significant help from the Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

4. We will diversify and increase visitation without harming the wildlife or the habitat. People from near and far experience the Refuge in person and on-line as a world-class destination.

5. We will be a strong and influential voice with national, state and local leaders about the importance of conservation and the Refuge. Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge will actively advocate for the land, water, air and wildlife conservation.

Our current strategies are focused in the following three areas:

Refuge Awareness
1. Promote on-site and off-site events focused on environmental education and awareness of this vital resource.
2. Engage with local chambers of commerce, civic organizations, and other community partners.
3. Provide unique opportunities for refuge visitors including presentations, guided tours and hikes.
4. Operate the Rookery Nature Store in the refuge Visitor Center to extend the visitor experience through relevant merchandise.
5. Engage with local, state, and federal representatives to advocate for Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

Human Capacity
1. Build and retain a team of volunteers. With only 8 full-time year-round refuge staff and 1 full-time Friends staff member, volunteers are the lifeblood of the refuge.
2. Promote an annual membership program to involve refuge supporters.

Funding
1. Connect with interested parties and purchase properties relevant to the refuge to become part of the refuge complex.
2. Fund restoration efforts and maintenance projects on refuge properties.
3. Fund visitor access projects including kayak launches, fishing platforms, and trails.
4. Provide intern stipends to provide college students with incredible experiences and networking opportunities while allowing refuge staff to focus on on-going projects.
5. Provide transportation grants so that local schools can take field trips to experience the refuge.

Through donor-centered fundraising, we seek grant opportunities, individual donors, and corporations to help make all of this possible.

Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge seeks diversity in its board of directors, staff, and volunteers to support our mission.

Recent Accomplishments Include:

-Purchased 69 acres of land as part of our revolving Land Acquisition and Restoration Program. 40.56 acres have been sold to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be managed as part of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
-Built an ADA compliant trail at the Fox Nature Preserve
-Installed an ADA compliant kayak access and pavilion at the Nehls Memorial Nature Preserve on Catawba Island.
-Created Career Pathways Program as an extension of our successful Internship Program
-Received Ohio EPA grant to fund restoration work on 40 acres of land.
-Funded Wildlife Drive improvements including 9 pull-offs and a restroom mid-way through the route.
-With funds from many partnering organizations, built the Visitor Center Fishing Access including one ADA-accessible fishing platform.
-Constructed West Harbor Landing observation deck, ADA accessible parking space in the parking area, kayak launch, kiosk, and pollinator habitat.
-Built Turtle Creek Island Unit parking area and kayak launch.
-Built Middle Toussaint Unit parking area and kayak launch.
-Constructed Boss Unit Shorebird Deck.
-Provided stipends for 27 13-week internships in the last 5 years.
-Created an Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge license plate available at Ohio BMV's.
-Received Ohio Environmental Education Foundation grant to equip the Refuge Ranger Station with educational materials.
-Hosted annual events including the Biggest Week in American Birding, Cars for Critters, West Sister Island Sunset Cruise, Discover Ottawa Day, 5K, Chili Cook-off, Lorax Day, Holiday Open House, Howl-o-ween, etc.

What's Next?

-Purchasing and restoring additional relevant properties to native habitat. Our goal is to have a $500,000 revolving fund in place to allow us to purchase properties as they are available, then sell to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at a later date once their paperwork is in order. Money entering the Joan and Richard Kimple Conservation Fund will help to support land purchases and leverage restoration work in perpetuity.
-Continuing to fund the Career Pathways Program. With refuges understaffed, adding additional human capacity is one of the biggest ways Friends groups can support their refuges. This program helps to offset the imbalance.
-Fund additional refuge priority projects as they arise. Deferred maintenance has made the highest ever recorded lake levels a challenge for Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge's aging infrastructure. We anticipate a need to assist in replacing the series of pumps, water control structures, culverts, electric pump stations, flap gates, and fish passage structures.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback

Financials

Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

Board of directors
as of 04/05/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Pete Schwager

Mary Willoughby

Kendra Foust

Jim Krieger

Michael House

Tajinder Singh

Ronald Overmyer

Justin Woldt

Joey Warner

Tara Bostater

Jacob Price

Pete Schwager

Sara Sherick

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/25/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 12/14/2019

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Policies and processes
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.