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About the Friends of the Pawnee National Grassland

The Friends of the Pawnee National Grassland birding club (CO registered name 20191489667) is established to foster an interest in the grassland birds of the Pawnee and beyond amongst Colorado birders and visitors to our great state. We seek to increase awareness of the importance of support for conservation in the state mobilizing the increasing number of enthusiastic active birders to contribute to the conservation of Colorado’s grassland birds in particular. Grassland species are among the most imperiled group of birds in the United States. The Pawnee is rich and biodiverse when it comes to bird species—393 bird species have been documented in Weld County, many on the Pawnee.




In the late 1990s I, Gary Lefko aka “The Nunn Guy”, was given a bird feeder as a gift. Having seen birds coming to the feeder I thought “more feeders, more birds.” I was right in my assumption I then began seeing birds in a variety of colors and shapes at the feeders. I needed a set of binoculars and a field guide to find out who these birds were. A birder was born.


The next step in my evolution as a birder was receiving an newspaper article talking about the new Great Florida Birding Trail. I wondered what this might be and investigated it. In my research I discovered the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail (the originator of the birding trail concept). I thought to myself “Colorado calls itself the great outdoors, where is our birding trail?” As an IT professional I created the Great Pikes Peak Birding Trail for the five counties surrounding Colorado Springs. Instant hit! It quickly garnered the support of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, local Audubon, media and business. Long story short, a few years into it our state stood up the Colorado Birding Trail Steering Committee and the Colorado Birding Trail was born!


Soon after that “social media” was born and I turned my thoughts to how to engage our citizens by “connecting them to nature through birds.” I developed two birder social networks and that really energized my efforts towards conservation and my role in it.


Fast forward, 2019-2020, I completed Colorado State University’s graduate-level “Nonprofit Administration” certificate and I am in the midst of completing their “Conservation Communications” certificate. This “Friends of the Pawnee National Grassland” birding club is the results of this educational endeavor.


What are Friends and why are they so important?


Friends groups are made up of lots of “regular folks” like you and me, we care about a resource and work together to protect it. Our concern for the resource has spurred us into action to organize a Friends group that is dedicated to promoting and perpetuating our resource.

Our Motto


Experience the Pawnee National Grassland today. Sustain it forever.


Our Vision Statement


Communicate, educate and conserve a Pawnee National Grassland that enthuses a lifelong reverence and deference to nature.


Our Mission Statement


To partner to create opportunities for all people to engage and support the Pawnee National Grassland by:


  • Connecting and educating the community on the importance of the Pawnee to the health and economic benefit of our community 
  • Activating the community to get involved in the stewardship of the Pawnee 
  • Revering the Land put simply the balance between conservation for proper use of nature and the preservation of nature from use 
  • Ensuring Legacy by building conservation-minded leaders and informed citizens for the future


Our Brand Values


These values set our behaviors for our every action. We respect and elevate the integrity of the Pawnee’s natural, historical and cultural resources and advocate sustainability for present and future generations:


  • Wonder of the Pawnee National Grassland: We value the diversity and resilience of nature and treasure its beauty. Nature sustains and renews us, provides unexpected moments of joy, and inspires our daily work. We celebrate the wonder of the Pawnee in all we do. 
  • Passion and Commitment: We are grounded in our beliefs that the health and well being of the Pawnee is the first consideration for any decisions made by this Friends group. We are committed to nature and to people. We share our passion with others to connect people with nature and to inspire everyone to be stewards of the environment. 
  • People and Community: We care deeply about our colleagues, our partners, our members, and the communities with whom we work. We learn from their experience, expertise, and beliefs, and together we build conservation communities that welcome and respect all people. 
  • Inspiring Action: We believe that every person can make a positive difference. Through education, personal discovery, and transformational experiences, we foster a conservation ethic in current and future generations. 
  • Credibility: We bring a collective expertise, sound science, long-term thinking, and community knowledge to solve pressing and important environmental challenges. Our personal and organizational integrity serves as a foundation for our work.


Our Brand Positioning Statement


To support partners to become more effective, the new Friends of Pawnee National Grassland group will provide much needed resources and services to help sustain the Pawnee National Grassland for today and tomorrow. Our Friends group is modeled after the National Wildlife Refuge System Friends model which is well known for over 30 years for their achievements and dedication in promoting and perpetuating their local refuges. Our Friends group promises to deliver above and beyond resources and services to propel and sustain the Pawnee National Grassland for future generations.