NWF Habitat Steward Volunteer
President, Habitat and Wildlife Keepers (HAWK)
North Carolina Wildlife Federation
Changing a Life, Making a Difference
Little did I know that volunteering with the National Wildlife Federation would change my life so much. I had always had a love for all things “nature” and was dismayed at what was happening to wildlife habitat, but I was not aware of any local groups dealing with these issues at the grassroots level until I attended a Habitat and Wildlife Keepers (HAWK) meeting in my hometown of Matthews, North Carolina. Within a year I completed the National Wildlife Federation’s Habitat Stewards training and knew I was hooked.
HAWK arranges monthly educational programs for the public and our chapter members and we work on projects at schools and parks, creating habitat and educational opportunities for children and adults alike. HAWK's Earth Day event has grown each year for four consecutive years and we supported and contributed to the creation of a Native Plant Certificate program with UNCC Botanical Garden. HAWK leadership team members participate in the classes including basic botany, tree ID, soil basics, and ecology. I am among the four HAWK members in the first graduating class this fall.
With the support of our town board, we have launched the Matthews Naturally project, an effort to certify Matthews as one of the National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Habitats. Together we know we can do this, having fun and learning as we achieve this special certification and recognition for our town.
HAWK members have made a statement to our community that we are the voice for wildlife. We wear our shirts proudly and attend public events and meetings on environmental issues as often as we can, making our presence and our mission known.
I have been a member of HAWK’s leadership team for several years now and this May was asked to serve as the chapter’s President. I was very hesitant as I had some big shoes to fill, but the entire team rallied behind me. I knew with their support that I could do this. Every minute I spend with my fellow team leaders is a learning experience for me and provides me with a real sense of camaraderie. My life has changed so much since my first HAWK meeting three years ago and I know that I am making a difference.
Editor’s Note: The National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization, with more than 4 million supporters and 47 state affiliate organizations. North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF) is the affiliate organization in North Carolina. To ensure broad, grassroots support, NCWF engages local chapters across the state, including HAWK. In 2010, NCWF was recognized as the National Wildlife Federation Affiliate-of-the Year and HAWK was named Chapter-of-the-Year.