President’s View: Connecting Millions to Nature

NWF gardening programs are growing generations of wildlife enthusiasts

  • Collin O’Mara, NWF President and Chief Executive Officer
  • Conservation
  • Mar 27, 2017
While planting native wetland plants to benefit water and wildlife along the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C., NWF President Collin O’Mara shows his daughter a worm—to both her horror and delight.

SPRING IS A TIME OF RENEWAL—a time to reflect on fruitful efforts of the past and to look forward with hope to what can grow in the season ahead. Inspired by our members, partners and affiliates, we are all working tirelessly in communities, schools, businesses, farms and places of worship across this nation to expand and improve habitat for monarch butterflies, bees, birds and other wildlife by growing native plants, connecting wildlife corridors and reducing chemical use.

An estimated 4 million people are now engaged in the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife™ program. The program’s Certified Wildlife Habitat® designation recognizes efforts to provide wildlife with food, water, cover and places to raise young. We’ve certified almost 210,000 sites covering some 1.5 million acres of habitat, and we are partnering with nearly one-third of our 50 state and territorial affiliates to help more Americans make their backyards wildlife havens.

We believe there has never been a more important time for Americans to roll up their sleeves and help wildlife—and millions are doing just that. From coast to coast, we’re helping individuals and entire communities restore pollinator populations, including nearly 300 mayors who have taken our Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. The Federation has also helped develop plans to protect monarch habitat across key states in the butterfly’s central migratory flyway, and we continue to lead coalitions with the garden trade and conservation nonprofits in efforts such as the National Pollinator Garden Network, which mobilizes some 800,000 member gardeners to support pollinators.

Beyond the garden, we’re introducing millions of children to nature. We’ve expanded environmental education in more than 11,000 schools, and we recently launched Ranger Rick Cub magazine to help very young children enjoy the wonders of wildlife.

While we should all be proud of these accomplishments, the National Wildlife Federation will remain laser focused on our mission: “Uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world.” We’ll stay true to our values of inclusion, science-based decision-making, nonpartisanship and collaboration. And we’ll adhere to our beliefs that we all have responsibility to conserve wildlife, protect public-trust resources, support sustainable outdoor recreation, address climate change and connect children with nature.

Wildlife needs everyone. So we invite you to garden for wildlife as an immediate, personal way to help right outside your door. Thank you for being part of our one Federation family!

Learn to Garden for Wildlife

Become an NWF Wildlife Gardener and sign up for our Garden for Wildlife™ newsletter. It's free and you will receive great gardening tips and learn how to certify your yard as a Certified Wildlife Habitat® site or your community as part of NWF's Community Wildlife Habitat® program.

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More from National Wildlife magazine and NWF:

Empowering Americans Who Want to Help Wildlife
Our Work: Protecting Wildlife, Inspiring Future Generations
Connecting 10 Million Kids to Nature
Beyond Politics: Our Toughest Conservation Challenges 

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More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

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