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Ranger Rick
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Participant Age: 
Under 7, 7 to 12, 12 and up
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$0
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Date submitted: 
01/30/2013
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Physical Challenge: 
Maintain a Wildlife-Friendly Lawn
There are a lot of tiny creatures living beneath your lawn. Here's how to make sure your yard is a friendly place for wildlife.
Steps
Step 1
Know Who Lives Beneath Your Lawn
  • Bacteria: If you counted each of the 100 billion bacteria in a handful of soil at one per second, without stopping, it would take you 320 years to finish. (One billion equals 1,000 million, or 1,000,000,000.
  • Earthworms: Every atom in your body has passed through an earthworm’s stomach before it became part of you. (That’s because your body is made up of atoms that come from the food you eat. And almost everything you eat comes from plants. And almost all plants grow in soil that earthworms have eaten over and over again.).
  • Tardigrades: Tardigrades are also called "water bears" because they live in water and wet soil and have a bear-like shape. When it becomes too hot, too cold, or too dry for them, they shrivel up and become almost lifeless. Some tardigrades can survive this way for more than 120 years and then come back to life.
  • Actinomycetes: The rich smell of freshly dug soil comes from the billions of actinomycetes (ack-TIN-o-my-SEE-tees) that live there. Actinomycetes are tiny living things that are a lot like both fungi and bacteria.
Step 2
Avoid Chemicals

Avoid using chemicals to get rid of "bad" insects or "bad" weeds. The chemicals kill many of the "good" creatures too—the ones that help keep soil alive and healthy. And the chemicals can be harmful to people and pets. So why not ask your parents to find "natural" ways to care for your grass?

Step 3
Make Your Backyard a Wildlife Habitat
  • You can also ask your parents to turn your yard into a wildlife habitat. A whole world of creatures—big and small, above ground and below—will thank you!
  • Here's more information on how to turn your backyard into a Certified Wildlife Habitat: nwf.org/how-to-help/garden-for-wildlife/create-a-habitat.aspx
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