Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society
1324 Sandbridge Road * Virginia Beach, VA * 23456
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society, 2019 Annual Report
The 4,589 acre Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (BBNWR) was created by Presidential proclamation in 1938 to provide resting and feeding habitat for dwindling migratory bird populations along the historic Atlantic Flyway. As impactful human practices continued, the BBNWR further expanded through the 1990s to its present day 9,250 acres. The Refuge, part of the US Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service has not always had the resources to meet expansion, wildlife, and community needs.
National Wildlife Refuges have historically relied on volunteers to help meet their enormous conservation needs; however, they could not perform fundraising and other tasks, more suited to independent non-profits. In the 1980s the Fish and Wildlife Service created a formal organizational structure called “Friends” groups. These supporters aid 280 of its 568 Refuges and wetlands management districts. Since their inception, some 40,000 individuals belong to 185 Friends groups nationwide. The groups have taken great pride in raising more than $15 million and have volunteered tens of thousands of hours toward conservation projects.
In 2019, the BBNWR recognized the benefits that Friends groups could bring to wildlife and the community. Subsequently, Refuge Manager Doug Brewer; Deputy Refuge Manager Kathryn Owens; and Visitor Services Specialist Erica Ryder, solicited passionate Refuge volunteers with Back Bay conservation focus, to discuss the formation of a Friends group. The Refuge staff, Refuge advocate Molly Brown, and the team of volunteers, some having as many as six decades of conservation and related professional experience, convened to discuss forming a Friends organization. The group recognized the need and work began to create the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society (BBNWRS).
Founding Board Members:
Richard Dyer, President
Former Broadcast Engineer, City of Virginia Beach
Former President/Board Member Back Bay Restoration Foundation; Volunteer BBNWR
Marjorie Thompson, Vice President
Retired Federal Law Enforcement
Barry L Kurzer DDS, Treasurer
Retired General Dentist
Catherine Miller, Secretary
Former Life Science Teacher
Charlie Ellin, Board of Directors
Retired Naval Officer
Volunteer BBNWR; Board Member Back Bay Restoration Foundation
Daniel Ford, Board of Directors
Insurance Agent Farmers; Former Merchant Mariner
Clarence Keel, Board of Directors
Former: President Seaboard Savings Bank, VA Beach; Senior Vice President BB&T; President, Hampton Roads Region, Community Bank of Stanton
Reese Lukei, Board of Directors
Licensed bird banding/raptor specialist, Research Assistant Center for Conservation Biology; Trails Advocate; Volunteer BBNWR
Mission and Vision:
Mission: To conserve, protect, and enhance natural resources; through advocacy, outreach, education, fundraising, and projects for the betterment of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Vision: A sustainable Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge that is responsive to diverse native wildlife and habitat maintained in a healthy ecosystem as a contributing link in the migration chain of the Atlantic Flyway
The initial creation of a non-profit organization requires a tremendous amount of administrative and professional resources. As such, most of our 2019 initiatives were dedicated to establishing a solid Society foundation. The following were Society milestones:
• Created the Society mission and vision statements
• Instituted the founding Board of Directors and Officers
• Wrote BBNWRS Articles of Incorporation and reviewed by volunteer attorney Sherri Crawford
• Wrote BBNWRS Bylaws and reviewed by volunteer attorney Sherri Crawford
• Obtained Federal Employee Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS
• Established a bank account
• Applied for and received IRS 501(c)3 tax exempt status
• Filed incorporation and certificate of solicitation documents with the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
• Filed incorporation and solicitation documents with the City of Virginia Beach, Commissioner of Revenue office
• Created Society logo by volunteer Jeff White, Creative Director, Salvation Design Co.
• Sought Board donations and created financial templates
• Created Facebook page -https://www.facebook.com/backbaynwrsociety/
• Created website by volunteer Kevin Jonas, Jonas Marketing https://backbaynwrsociety.org/ which includes volunteer and donation features
• Developed strategic plans with diverse goal categories: biology, outreach, projects, environmental education, and fundraising
The Society received donations totaling $1,349 in 2019. Donations consisted of monetary donations of $1,250 and in-kind donations of $99. Disbursements in 2019 totaled $374. These expenses consisted of: administrative costs $350, web services cost $24, the State Solicitation filing fee $107.35, and bank fees of $62.96. As of December 31, 2019, the Society had assets of $804.69 with no outstanding liabilities.
The Society created near-term 2020 goals from its strategic plan and goals reviews. While ambitious, meeting these goals will be in part dependent on donations, volunteer support, and the COVID-19 restrictions.
Near-term goals include:
• Plant identification placards
• Pollinator/butterfly garden
• Publish periodic e-newsletters
• Expand membership
• Creation and distribution of Society brochure
• Establish a donation box at the Refuge
• Osprey nesting platforms maintenance, construction, and installation
• Native plant integration
• Aquatic vegetation planting
• Dune grass planting
• Hold an annual public meeting
The initiatives represent a small portion of potential projects the Board has identified. Donors, members, and volunteer supporters will be paramount in determining the extent of our success in accomplishing these near-term goals.
All told, the Board and volunteers contributed 954 hours in 2019. Without paid staff, the Society relies completely on its supporters and owes each much gratitude. We are proud to be part of the Society and its initial accomplishments, dedicated volunteers, capable Refuge leadership, and most importantly its mission.
Richard Dyer, President Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society