National Wildlife Federation Regions & Affiliates
During its 87-year history, the Arkansas Wildlife Federation (AFW)—an affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation—has played a key role in the state’s conservation efforts. Notably, it supported the 1972 designation of the Buffalo River (above) as the nation’s first National River and also successfully lobbied for the 1996 passage of a sales tax dedicating funds for conservation statewide.
To address a recent lull in full-time leadership, AWF in July 2022 hired conservation advocate Terri Lane as its new executive director and CEO, charging her with spearheading the organization’s rebirth.
Lane’s vision includes recruiting new board members, revising AWF’s mission statement and coordinating priorities and policies with other state conservation groups and nonprofits. “I want to get everyone in the same room so we can be proactive,” she says.
As part of this process, the AWF team hosted a series of visioning sessions with leaders and conservation groups from across the state to discuss AWF’s future. These sessions emphasized incorporating the principles of equity and justice in all aspects of AWF’s work and stressed the organization’s commitment to ensuring diverse representation within its board and membership.
AWF will continue to offer its quarterly Arkansas Out of Doors magazine to highlight state conservation programs such as the Summer STEM Connections pilot program, which gives young people—particularly from under-resourced communities—a chance to learn about careers such as forest management (above). It also publishes winners of AWF’s Wildlife of Arkansas Student Art Contest. In 2022, the contest had more than 500 entries, including a colored pencil drawing of northern bobwhite quail that won Best of Show (pictured).
State agencies and NWF applaud AWF’s relaunch and its focus on equity as it works to help wildlife, wild lands and people thrive.
WHY I GIVE “As a grandmother to two little girls, I feel that one of my main jobs is instilling in them a love and respect for our planet, nature and wildlife. We go hiking, bring bags to the beach to clean up trash and kayak together. It’s what I learned from my parents and one of the most important things I can teach.”
Since 2019, NWF has teamed up with national homebuilder Taylor Morrison to restore and protect wildlife habitats in hundreds of communities across the country. The company is enhancing biodiversity by planting native flowers, shrubs, grasses and trees, incorporating nature trails into communities, supporting outdoor experiences and encouraging sustainable landscape practices such as chemical-free gardening and limited mowing. To date, NWF and Taylor Morrison have created 50 butterfly demonstration gardens, installed or planned 57 Nature Play Spaces™ where kids and families can engage with nature in meaningful ways and safeguarded more than 5,000 acres of 100 percent native Certified Wildlife Habitat® open space (such as in Sea Summit, California, above).
The Spanish word querencia conveys “a love for the land and a deeply held connection to a place,” says Camila Simon, executive director of Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO). That sense of devoted stewardship is captured in a film called “Nuestra Agua, Nuestro Futuro”—Spanish for “Our Water, Our Future”—which HECHO released online last May. Telling the story of the Upper Rio Grande watershed (above), the film features interviews with Hispanic and Indigenous people who feel the sense of querencia toward this land, including Director of the Pueblo Action Alliance Julia Bernal (A) and author Teresa Vigil (B).
The film is part of a larger initiative between HECHO and NWF to assess riparian corridors in the Rio Grande Valley and create an action plan for increased connectivity and function. As part of this work, in May 2021, HECHO offered an early screening of the film in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and farther south in Las Cruces so people across the state could learn more about how precious this riparian ecosystem is to their communities.
The Upper Rio Grande region is essential to agriculture and is an important cultural and spiritual mainstay for many people, including the Pueblo of Sandia and Pueblo of Tesuque. Large industrial farming operations pose a threat to this ecosystem, but Indigenous groups who farm sustainably (below) often have been excluded from decision-making about area resources.
“The way we irrigate replenishes the watershed, recharges the aquifer and creates habitat for wildlife,” says Devon Peña (C), founder of the Acequia Institute, which promotes water democracy, environmental justice and resilient agriculture. “While the industrial farmers in the rest of the valley … are destroying wetlands, we are creating them.”
WildlifeUnite—the National Wildlife Federation’s annual meeting—will be held this year in Lake Tahoe, California, June 21–24. To learn more about the meeting, see the schedule of events and register to attend, go to wildlifeunite.nwf.org.
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