President's View

Planting for the Planet

  • Collin O’Mara President & CEO of the National Wildlife Federation
  • Conservation
  • Mar 31, 2023

One of nearly 300,000 NWF Certified Wildlife Habitats® across the nation, this garden in Washington, D.C., blooms with native plants such as anise hyssop and purple iris.

SINCE THE FOUNDING of the National Wildlife Federation in 1936, our work has rested on the idea that when individuals roll up their sleeves and take action for wildlife, these efforts add up in a big way.

This year we celebrate one of the best examples of individual action as we mark the 50th anniversary of our Garden for Wildlife™ program, which has certified nearly 300,000 wildlife habitat gardens across the nation. America’s wildlife crisis has left thousands of species at heightened risk of extinction. This is why Garden for Wildlife and its associated campaigns—such as Garden for Wildlife Month, Butterfly Heroes™, the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge™ and others—are so critically important: They’ve taught millions of people how growing native plants can help restore the populations of imperiled monarch butterflies and thousands of other at-risk species.

To enhance these efforts, we’ve developed partnerships with national homebuilder Taylor Morrison, online landscape design firm Tilly, retailer Wild Birds Unlimited and over 1,200 leaders participating in the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge. These partnerships have created thousands of acres of certified habitat. In addition, 25 of the Federation’s state affiliates are working locally to advocate for native plant-friendly policies, provide workshops, hold plant sales and recruit Certified Wildlife Habitats® in their states.

Research shows that this work is making a difference: People who grow native plants have the potential to support twice as much wildlife in their yards as those who don’t. More people are buying plants that benefit birds, butterflies and bees, and the number of people saying they plan to convert their lawns to native plants doubled in recent years.

To build upon this success, the Federation has launched an exciting start-up business venture to help meet the demand for native plants. The enterprise is called Garden for Wildlife, Inc. (check it out at, which now sells curated, regionally appropriate native plant collections to people across 38 states. Our network of native plant nurseries supplies the plants for home gardeners. And we’ve begun a plant “bank” that will match every purchase with an equal number of native plants we’ll donate to create gardens at specific schools, places of worship and under- resourced frontline communities. Please help us celebrate five decades of creating beautiful, beneficial spaces that support wildlife and create healthy, healing communities for us all by joining the movement to garden for wildlife!

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Follow Collin O’Mara on Twitter @Collin_OMara. To share your thoughts and opinions, email him at

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