NWF 2010 Annual Report

Connecting People with Nature

We had many successes in 2010 in our ongoing fight to keep children and adults connected to nature in an increasingly indoor-focused world. The year started with the shocking news that American children are now averaging almost eight hours per day watching television and playing video games. This leaves almost no time for unstructured play in natural settings, which helps children bond with nature, wildlife, and the outdoors.

On the more positive side, we saw some real advances made in greening K-12 schools and higher education campuses, and we saw a growing amount of leadership among government leaders who are recognizing that losing touch with nature and outdoor time will have a huge health and educational cost for the nation. In 2010, we also saw more movement toward a greener U.S. economy and were able to address the need for more science and green technology expertise and training. Importantly, NWF continued to develop and expand its home, school, and community habitat protection efforts, which provided volunteer opportunities for tens of thousands of people to protect and support wildlife, often in their own backyards.

Finally, the Gulf oil disaster of 2010 presented NWF with a particular challenge regarding children: namely, we needed to develop lesson plans and guidelines to help parents and educators discuss the events in the Gulf with young people.

Through our work to increase childrenand educate American youth about nature and wildlife, we completed the following:

We helped the White House expand its new Let's Move Campaign aimed at reducing childhood obesity to include a much-needed Let's Move Outdoors element to keep children active in nature.

In cooperation with the YMCA, REI, Sierra Club, Izaak Walton League of America, The Outdoor Foundation, National Recreation and Parks Association, and the Children & Nature Network, NWF helped launch the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), a national partnership to connect children, youth, and families with nature, especially through federal, state, and local policy solutions.

As part of our annual meeting, NWF held a national forum and web-cast to outline the state and federal actions needed to connect children with nature and the outdoors. Over 1,000 leaders representing conservation partner organizations; NWF state affiliates; and many health, recreation, and education groups participated in this event.

NWF was a leader in a successful effort to pass new state legislation in Colorado that provides direct learning opportunities for children to study environmental science through direct experience with outdoor education programs.

NWF was a leader in a successful effort to pass new state legislation in Colorado that provides direct learning through direct experience with outdoor education programs.

Our state-based efforts also included support for the Governor of Missouri to issue a new executive order directing state agencies to start new programs and improve the coordination of outdoor education and recreation for children and their families. NWF also helped Texas embark on a similar effort to develop its own plan for getting kids outdoors.

In a team effort with colleague organizations, NWF helped secure official public proclamations from all 50 U.S. governors declaring June to be Great Outdoors Month.

In the federal legislative arena, we pushed for the successful House of Representatives passage of legislation to expand the watershed, environmental, and outdoor education programs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In addition, we successfully advocated for increased funding for the National Environmental Education Act, which supports the Environmental Protection Agencynationwide outdoors, nature, and environmental education efforts.

We also played a valuable role in the House of Representatives passage of the Public Lands Service Corps Act, which is designed to provide employment for under-resourced youth at national parks, refuges, and forests.

NWF advocacy work and collaboration with other organizations increased federal support for environmental and outdoor education programs from $47 million in 2009 to $80 million in 2010.

In terms of research and communications, NWF issued a new report entitled Whole Child: Developing Mind, Body, and Spirit through Outdoor Play, which reveals how Americaaffects our physical and mental health. Reviewed by an independent panel of medical experts, Whole Child explores how regular, unstructured outdoor play can boost children

NWF conducted its longest running education program, National Wildlife Week, by providing thousands of families and educators with customized outdoor activities and materials that encourage wildlife appreciation and spending time outdoors.

NWF was a leader in a successful effort to pass new state legislation in Colorado that provides direct learning opportunities for children to study environmental science through direct experience with outdoor education programs.

Through our work to reach children, parents, and educators directly, we undertook the following:

We launched an exciting new Eco-Schools USA school-greening program that now involves 400 schools in 40 states, reaching over 175,000 students and 5,000 educators. The program has lessened the schools’ environmental footprint; reduced facility expenses; and improved students’ behavior, morale, attitude, and academic scores/interest, particularly in science.

We also expanded the NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat® program by certifying over 240 new schools. We now reach 3,600 U.S. schools and one million students with a robust hands-on nature education program located directly on the school grounds.

In 2010, NWF certified 15,000 new backyard and community wildlife habitats, bringing the total number to 136,000 and putting us on track to reach the 150,000 mark by 2011— our 75th anniversary year!

We formed an exciting new program merger with the education organization ERTNXT to further develop and expand the Trees for the 21st Century planting and education program. The Trees for the 21st Century program resulted in approximately 10,000 trees being planted during the year and the development of terrific new alliances with our state affiliates

For our focused work with young people, we held the 2010 Civics & Conservation Summit in Juneau, Alaska, which attracted high school students from around the state to learn about the legislative process, to demonstrate the power of youth voices, and to take action for a more sustainable Alaska. We also held the eighth annual Summer Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, to train urban high school teens to become certified climate ambassadors and leaders in local action projects.

NWF formed an alliance between Big Brothers Big Sisters and our new Trees for the 21st Century program to cultivate mentor relationships with at-risk youth in urban areas. Youth and their mentors participate in tree-planting and other hands-on, science-based activities to help young people learn about the importance of trees and how to take care of the future.

NWF’s beloved Ranger Rick Magazine, a program that has inspired tens of millions of children to become more conservation-minded in their adult years, was honored with the national Association of Educational Publisher’s (AEP) award for the best U.S. children’s periodical in the K-5 category. The magazine was also a top four finalist for the esteemed AEP Gold Lamp award as the best educational periodical in America for any age group.

We conducted the Great American Backyard Campout for the sixth year, which involved approximately 50,000 campers from across the United States in a major outdoor event to celebrate June as Great Outdoors Month and to highlight the need for and opportunities available to spend more time outdoors with families and children.

We also piloted a promising new outdoor program for families with three regional Hike and Seek events in Chicago, Seattle, and Washington, DC, with 600 participants as a way of encouraging families and friends to enjoy the outdoors together through nature hikes and scavenger hunts held at local parks.

In our work to support education for a greener and cleaner economy, the following activities were completed:

We joined forces with the national human development organization, Jobs for the Future, to launch a new Greenforce job-training initiative to create job-training programs at some 100 community colleges in six employment-challenged regions in the United States, including the Texas border country with Latino-serving institutions, Detroit area schools struggling to help the faltering auto industry find new green pathways, and the southern Appalachians.

NWF successfully advocated for $20 million in new climate change education funding for NASA and the National Science Foundation aimed at improvingscience education institutions’ ability to educate the public and professionals on the effects of and solutions to global warming.

We selected five colleges and universities from across the United States as award recipients of NWF’s annual Chill Out! campus innovations competition, which promotes sustainability and honors U.S. schools that are developing creative approaches to reducing campuses’ carbon footprint. We received an award nomination for the Chill Out! video and webcast from The Imagen Foundation for “Best National Informational Programming” for the positive portrayal of Latinos and Latino culture in the entertainment industry.

NWF advocated for increased federal support for environmental education and worked with the Obama Administration in its proposals to redesign the No Child Left Behind Act to ensure that the President’s budgetincluded a new “Complete Education” program with funding for environmental literacy.

We also formed a new partnership and teacher training program with NASA designed to bring the educational capacity of its earth-monitoring satellites into U.S. classrooms with real-time data to monitor climate change.

We expanded the Climate Classroom educational website into a more robust educational platform for younger children who needed carefully tailored and age-appropriate lesson plans to learning about climate science.

Through our ongoing volunteer-development efforts, NWF performed the following:

We trained and/or supported 3,000 NWF wildlife habitat volunteer “stewards” who directly reached over 500,000 homeowners and gardeners in 45 states with educational lectures and hands-on support for the creation of school, home, and community wildlife gardens.

In a special series of volunteer-training efforts, we educated 11,000 garden club leaders and gardeners in 20 states on the fundamentals of the NWF Gardeners’ Guide to Global Warming report and how to put them into practice.

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