The non-profit Friends group provides support and volunteer assistance to further the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and their management objectives at Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Southwest Indiana. The group provides environmental education and outreach to the community, maintains extensive wildlife-watching trails, assists in land acquisition for conservation, and coordinates the annual Refuge Appreciation Day.
Through monthly environmental education and outreach programs on the Refuge, the Friends connect with an estimated 1,000 visitors annually, inspiring others to get involved in promoting, protecting and conserving natural resources. The Friends created a "Monarch Way Station and Pollinator Garden" at the Boyd's Trailhead on the Refuge. This aesthetically pleasing garden welcomes visitors while providing additional information on the importance of native plants and pollinators, while also providing information on using native plants when gardening at home. An estimated 500 people view the garden yearly.
At the Friends programs and activities, which include wildlife-watching hikes and guided canoe trips, they provide outreach to at least 500 people annually and, through education, relay the importance of clean water and the value of conserving natural resources for wildlife and for people to enjoy. Guided tours cover a variety of habitat types including wetlands, prairies and forests, where participants gain an understanding and appreciation of conserving, preserving and restoring the natural resources of Southwest Indiana.
The Friends group maintains relationships with state and federal representatives, keeping representatives abreast of ongoing events of the Refuge. They also work with the local county tourism board to promote Patoka River NWR and to provide information to the public about visiting the Refuge.