Home > Mini-Grants Contest for National Wildlife Refuge Friends Groups

Mini-Grants Contest for National Wildlife Refuge Friends Groups

The National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) and the YardMap citizen science program from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, invite National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) – Friends organizations to apply for mini-grants to attend a one-day training workshop on Cornell’s YardMap, a citizen science mapping project for bird habitat conservation. A total of 10 Friends representatives (two representatives from five different refuges) will be selected for the training, which will take place in May 2013 at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York.

What is YardMap?

The YardMap Network is a citizen science project designed to inspire people to create better habitat for birds in backyards, schoolyards, and other open spaces. In YardMap, people map the characteristics of these green spaces, learn about potential ways to improve bird habitat, and track changes they, or others, have made in the landscape. YardMap allows you to easily create a digital map of any landscape using Google maps and simple point-and-click tools. Participants don’t need to know a lot about birds or plants; the program serves as a self-tutorial guide. Once the map is created, participants just log in a couple of times a year to update their map from any computer. Networking with other participants on the site provides opportunities to share conservation strategies, challenges, and successes while showcasing these efforts to a wider public audience.

How can YardMap benefit NWR Friends Groups and their conservation efforts?

  • Connect Friends organizations, as refuge stakeholders, to YardMap as a resource for networking about bird habitat conservation with their local community members, visitors, and Friends of other refuges
  • Provide Friends a platform for documenting and sharing refuge bird habitat conservation efforts
  • Inspire Friends to develop new ways of interacting with refuge visitors using citizen science
  • Help Friends add value to their volunteering experiences through contributions to a citizen science project based on their existing work at refuges
  • Introduce Friends to new resources for planning and carrying out conservation measures aimed at birds
  • Provide Friends with a rich educational experience at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Develop strategies for extending the reach of bird habitat conservation through YardMap beyond the boundaries of the refuge and into local backyards and other community conservation projects

What will happen at the YardMap Training Workshop?

The YardMap training workshop will be held at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where the 10 Friends selected will participate in a one-day interactive workshop during the peak of spring bird migration in the beautiful Sapsucker Woods. Participants will walk the trails in the early morning with local experts, enjoy good food, and learn about Cornell Lab’s newest Citizen Science Project, YardMap. During the workshop, attendees will:

  • Learn how yardmapping can be used at refuges to document existing conservation management actions and to engage with new and diverse visitor audiences
  • Work in pairs to learn how to get the most out of YardMap, gain additional expertise in bird-habitat relationships, and develop a plan to put YardMap to use at their refuge
  • Be given resources to share their experience with other Friends, volunteers and staff at their refuge, and engage their local community to participate
  • Have the opportunity to connect with other Friends from around the country, and perhaps, add some new birds to their life list

Who is eligible to apply for the YardMap Training Mini Grants?

  • All Refuge Friends organizations, with those near residential areas, urban refuges and underserved communities receiving priority
  • Refuge Friends organizations who can identify two people from their Friends organization that would be suited to carry out a citizen science project (Friends selected must either be a Friends member or on the Friends board of directors)
  • Refuge Friends organizations that can work with their Refuge Manager to identify a refuge habitat Yardmap project site

Downloadable Application

NWRS/YardMap Minigrant Application

What information should be included in my proposal?

  1. Identify and briefly describe the proposed refuge habitat Yardmap project site, the collaboration with your refuge in identifying the site, and/or how you would integrate YardMap into a new or existing bird conservation activities at the refuge
  2. Explain potential opportunities your Friends organization might have for engaging refuge visitors and the local community in bird-friendly gardening and greening. Briefly identify how your Friends organization would share your refuge YardMap successes beyond the boundaries of your refuge to engage the use of YardMap in local backyards, schoolyards or other community bird conservation projects

YardMap Mini-grant awardees agree to

  1. Attend the YardMap Workshop at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York on May 4, 2013
  2. Develop a plan to put YardMap to use on a refuge habitat project site and engage at least one community partner to integrate YardMap into a bird habitat conservation effort
  3. Train and share resources and experience with other Friends, volunteers and staff at your refuge
  4. What Expenses Do the Mini Grants Cover?

    Mini-grants will cover travel, food, lodging and all workshop materials. The workshop will be held on May 4, 2013 at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York.

    Mini-grant Deadline: March 18, 2013

    Submit your proposal to Joanna Webb at joanna_webb@fws.gov by the deadline. For more information contact Joanna Webb, National Friends and Partnership Coordinator, National Wildlife Refuge System, 4401 N. Fairfax Dr. Suite 635, Arlington, VA 22203.

    NWRS/YardMap Minigrant Application


Seven Friends organizations have just been awarded a YardMap training mini-grant, a citizen science training program of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Cornell has partnered with the Refuge System and refuge Friends organization to implement YardMap on refuges and within their surrounding communities to map bird habitats.

The 14 refuge Friends recipients (2 per Friends organization) will receive travel expenses to the Cornell Lab in early May and receive training to implement YardMap at their refuge and help build community partnerships in the YardMap citizen science initiative.

  • Friends of the Bosque del Apache NWR, NM

  • Friends of Patoka River NWR, IN

  • Friends of Patuxent NWR, MD

  • Calf Island Conservancy, CT

  • Friends of Bombay Hook NWR, DE

  • Friends of Great Swamp NWR, NJ

  • Chincoteague Natural History Association, VA