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About Us

What is a Friends Group? 

A Friends Group is a non-profit organization chartered by a written partnership agreement between the group and the entity or organization it supports. In the case of Big Oaks conservation Society, we are the Friends group which supports the goals, mission, and vision of the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge. Our Friends Group, Big Oaks Conservation Society, also known as BOCS, or Friends of Big Oaks, works closely with the refuge staff to educate visitors about wildlife and natural habitats, and supports Refuge projects and activities.

BOCS serves as the "community face" of the Refuge. As a non-profit group, we are in a special position to do things that benefit the Refuge, such as co-sponsoring activities and programs, as detailed elsewhere on this website. In addition, the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, as a federal organization, is not permitted to lobby for political advantage, endorse candidates, and is prohibited from certain forms of advertising and fund raising efforts. These functions can be undertaken by BOCS on behalf of the Refuge as advocates for the Refuge.


Who We Are:

 The Big Oaks Conservation Society (BOCS) is the non-profit support group of the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge (BONWR) who care about wildlife and want to make the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge a place in which wildlife and visitors mutually benefit. BOCS works closely with the BONWR staff and with the National Wildlife Refuge Association in their efforts to educate visitors about the wildlife and natural habitats at BONWR. The Big Oaks Conservation Society works closely with the Refuge staff and with the National Wildlife Refuge Association in their efforts to educate visitors about the wildlife and natural habitats at BONWR. Members have the opportunity to get involved with the management of Indiana’s largest national wildlife refuge.

Our Mission:

Our Mission is to support the goals of wildlife conservation and habitat restoration at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge; develop environmental education programs; enhance public awareness; encourage the use of — and appreciation for — the natural and cultural assets unique to Big Oaks NWR. The Big Oaks Conservation Society strives to:

  • Promote public awareness of the refuge and develop environmental education and support for schools and youth groups.

  • Develop public use facilities and activities in cooperation with refuge staff.

  • Support wildlife conservation, habitat restoration, and the continued existence of the refuge.

  • Promote the appreciation for the natural and cultural features of the area.

Why Join our Friends Group?

Members of Big Oaks Conservation Society help preserve wildlife and their habitat. Becoming a member of Big Oaks Friends Group allows one to:

  • Experience "behind the scenes" refuge activities with the Freinds Group and Refuge staff;

  • Attend social events hosted by the Friends group such as the Holiday Party at Old Timbers Lodge, fish fries, guided tours and shared activities with with nearby Wildlife Refuges;

  • Aid in the maintenance and preservation projects such as Old Timbers Lodge, Oakdake School, and other historic sites on the Refuge;

  • Participate in, plan, and promote our co-sponsored activites Outdoor Womens at Big Oaks, Take a Kid Fishing Day, annual Ice Cream Social, Lodge Day, Youth Deer Hunt and Youth Turkey Hunt, etc

  • Receive 10% purchase discount on exclusive Big Oaks merchandise.

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