Action Report June-July 2009

How National Wildlife Federation Is Making a Difference

06-01-2009 // NWF Staff

Ensuring that Biofuels Deliver
With their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat global warming and create economic opportunities for rural communities, biofuels can be an important part of the energy mix of the future. But growing crops for biofuels can trigger negative impacts as well, such as deforestation, loss of land for food production and pollution of soil and water resources. How can consumers ensure that these fuels are friends, not foes?

“They must be produced under social and environmental safeguards,” answers Barbara Bramble, NWF’s senior advisor for international affairs and steering board chair of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB). To that end, NWF helped to launch the RSB global initiative in spring 2007, with the goal of creating international standards for sustainable biofuels production and processing.

Major companies, environmental groups and activists for worker rights have all taken part in drafting and debating the measures. Once completed later this year, these standards will provide a basis for independent experts to assess and certify biofuels operations.

“The Inter-American Development Bank has agreed to use the RSB standards in its own decisions on which biofuels projects to fund,” says Bramble. In addition, RSB is in discussions with several governments interested in incorporating some form of these standards into their own formal regulations.

To learn more, visit RSB’s BioenergyWiki, an online forum hosted by NWF: www.bioenergywiki.net.

National Spotlight on Climate Action
Engaging America’s campus leaders in the fight against global warming is central to the mission of NWF’s Campus Ecology® program, which uses e-newsletters, local programs and online seminars and guides to reach students and staff (see www.campusecology.org). In recent months, the campus team also has helped produce a number of national events, including:

  • National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions: More than 800 colleges, universities, faith organizations and civic groups—an estimated 250,000 people—took part in this February 5 education event, which was designed to foster solutions-driven dialogue. One of the teach-in sponsors, NWF also coproduced the kickoff broadcast, Solutions for the First 100 Days. To view it, visit www.nationalteachin.org/launchwebcast.php.
  • Power Shift 2009: More than 12,000 young people descended on Washington, D.C., in late February for four days of “lobbying, learning, inspiration, empowerment and, most importantly, holding our elected officials accountable for rebuilding our economy and reclaiming our future through bold climate and clean energy policy,” says Lisa Madry, NWF’s director of campus outreach. To learn more, see www.powershift09.org.
  • Chill Out: Campus Solutions to Global Warming: For the past three years, NWF has honored students and faculty on campuses across the country who are engaging in positive, practical solutions to global warming. “Their successes are celebrated in a webcast that is used throughout the year as an education and organizing tool,” says Jen Fournelle, organizer of the Chill Out competition. For details about the 2009 winners, which were announced in April, go to www.campuschillout.org.

Kids’ Magazines Capture Gold
Ranger Rick®and Your Big Backyard are “the best,” says the Parents’ Choice Foundation. Earlier this spring the Maryland-based nonprofit honored each of the NWF children’s magazines with its prestigious Gold Award. Since 1978, the Foundation has been searching out and recommending quality media and toy products that help kids grow. See www.nwf.org/magazines.

Shoe Company Walks the Talk
During 2009, KEEN will make a donation to NWF for each pair of its toddler or infant Coronado shoes sold in the United States. Available in three bright colors, the eco-friendly Coronado features natural canvas, recycled aluminum eyelets and a recycled polyurethane and cork footbed. Each design showcases a different endangered animal. “This is a fun way for children to become aware of conservation and to know that their shoes helped protect wildlife,” says Kelly Wallrich, KEEN’s director of development and design. Visit www.keenfootwear.com.

Great Green Workplace
NWF recently received a 2009 EcoLeadership Award from the nonprofit Alliance for Workplace Excellence (AWE). The award honors “visionary employers who are paving the way for environmentally sustainable workplaces,” says AWE’s Liz Sobrino. An independent review panel of academics and business professionals evaluated NWF according to several best practices: energy efficiency, waste minimization, water conservation, pollution prevention and environmentally conscious travel.

Leveraging Farm Bill Dollars
Each year the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) makes more than $4 billion available to help farmers and ranchers put conservation systems in place on their lands. To provide members of its affiliates and other conservationists with the tools to help leverage these funds, NWF hosted a conference in March.

“Our aim was to show participants innovative ways that USDA conservation program dollars are being used at the state level to implement State Wildlife Action Plans, restore fish and wildlife habitat and combat climate change,” says Duane Hovorka, NWF’s Farm Bill outreach coordinator and organizer of the event. Breakout sessions gave attendees the opportunity to discuss how the examples could be used in their state.

Dave White, chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), gave the keynote speech. “His dramatic before and after pictures showed what conservation programs can do to improve the landscape,” says Hovorka. “White also emphasized a new NRCS focus on climate change.” NWF plans to teach others how to use these programs to address climate change and preserve habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife on America’s private lands.

Repower, Refuel and Rebuild
Mobilizing around President Obama’s first 100 days in office—and a mission to “Repower, Refuel and Rebuild America”—NWF and other environmental groups hosted some 75 town hall meetings across the country earlier this year. The forums brought together community members and elected officials to discuss how investment in clean energy technologies can reduce global warming pollution and create employment opportunities. Tours of green businesses, held in conjunction with the town halls, showcased efforts that are already transforming regional economies.

NWF President Larry Schweiger participated in a forum in his home state of Pennsylvania, and he also called on Congress. On March 25, he testified before a House subcommittee on the urgent need for comprehensive climate and energy legislation. “If designed and implemented correctly,” he told lawmakers, “such legislation can provide the financial resources needed to invest in new clean energy solutions, create millions of new jobs, protect the public from rising energy prices and safeguard America’s natural resources from the impacts of global warming.” For news about NWF’s latest efforts, visit www.nwf.org/climateaction.

It Pays to Play
NWF has partnered with the nonprofit group KaBOOM!—a fellow proponent of outdoor play—to find 100,000 playspaces in 100 days. You can earn money for NWF’s conservation and education programs by helping out! For every valid community playspace added to the Federation’s team page by June 30, one dollar will be donated to NWF. To join the cause, visit www.kaboom.org

New Guide for Eco-Travelers
While on vacation at Maryland’s Assateague Island National Seashore a few years ago, Pamela Brodowsky encountered a herd of wild ponies. “I was awed by their beauty,” says the Pennsylvania author. The experience inspired her to team up with NWF to create a tip-filled guide for eco-conscious travelers. The result is the newly released Destination Wildlife (Pedigree Books), which features more than 200 locations in the United States and abroad that offer unique opportunities to view wild animals. “The book pays particular attention to those sites that promote the least environmental impact while providing a thrilling educational and emotional experience,” says Brodowsky. In fact, many of sites described were established to help threatened species, through either reintroduction or habitat restoration efforts. Brodowsky says she hopes the book will draw attention to the challenges facing wildlife worldwide “and encourage people to contribute by word and deed to the many conservation efforts already under way.” To learn more, visit www.shopnwf.org.

Family Tradition of Gardening Lives On
As a child growing up in California’s Sonoma County, Pamela Bendich spent countless hours outside with her family—hunting, fishing, boating, camping and, especially, gardening. “We always had a family garden, and then I had my own starting when I was about 9 or 10,” says Bendich.

That love of the outdoors and gardening has lasted for decades. These days Bendich, who splits her time between Berkeley, California, and Kirkland, Washington, spends a good part of each spring and summer planting and maintaining a garden with her grandchildren.

The retired record company executive introduced Seattle-based Kalindi, 7, and Tilden, 5, to gardening three years ago on a visit to that city’s Japanese Garden. Since then, the family has grown dozens of different plants ranging from flowers to edibles such as cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes and herbs. Bendich sits down with the children in late winter to start plotting out their garden. Once spring arrives, she takes them to a nursery and lets them pick out their crops for the approaching growing season.

Bendich delights in seeing her grandchildren develop a respect for the Earth and its creatures; she has witnessed Tilden carrying earthworms from other parts of the yard to his garden plot. Growing food and flowers, she says, “is a very different experience from going to the grocery store. They watch, with great expectation, the growth of their garden. And they learn patience in the garden. Plants, unlike computer games, are not immediate.”

Bendich is a prime example of an NWF member who has for years supported the organization’s mission through her own activities, as well as by providing regular financial support to the Federation’s conservation work.

“Pam invests so much love into nurturing her grandchildren’s interest and appreciation of the outdoors,” says NWF Director of Development Christopher Harvey. “She’s the embodiment of NWF’s focus on reconnecting children with nature.”

NWF Supporters: A Circle of Friends
Named for NWF’s first president, the J. N. “Ding” Darling Circle is made up of supporters who each provide an annual tax-deductible gift of $1,000 or more to help the Federation confront threats to wildlife. In exchange, circle members receive regular updates on the organization’s work, advance invitations to upcoming events and numerous other benefits. To learn more, including how you can become a member, call 1-800-332-4949 or visit www.nwf.org/darlingcircle.

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