Smell Like Dirt

In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

Archive for national wildlife federation

Habitat Steward Training

If you live near Charlotte, NC and are interested in learning more about creating habitats for wildlife and helping educate others about the importance of habitat preservation, please join us for a three day workshop being held in September. The Habitat Steward Program is a 24 hour course (3-8 hour days) developed by the National Wildlife Federation to help train volunteers to work with individuals, businesses, schools, places of worship, etc to create wildlife habitats in their communities. The course covers providing the four elements of a habitat (food, water, shelter, places to raise young), composting and soil stewardship, planting with natives, removal of invasives, wildlife identification, and a lot more. The program is being held Sept 19, 20 and 21, 8am-5pm each day, and you must attend all three days. The cost is $50 per person plus 40 service hours in your community. I will be facilitating the program hosted by Habitat and Wildlife Keepers (HAWK), a chapter of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. Space is limited so if you are interested in joining us, please send me an email at HAWKNCWF@gmail.com.

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Are you Certifiable?

Monarch Butterfly

Ok, so most of us know about getting our backyards (or schoolyards, or businesses, etc) certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, right? It’s a fun thing to do and gives you great bragging rights and a wonderful opportunity to educate friends and neighbors on providing the four elements of a habitat (food, water, shelter and places to raise young) while reducing (eliminating!) chemical usage and practicing other eco-friendly gardening methods. But why stop there? Look into getting your yard certified as a Monarch Waystation. Like a lot of wildlife, Monarchs are struggling due to loss of habitat, pesticide usage, loss of wintering grounds, etc, and need all the help we can give them. Monarchs are particularly needy because in their caterpillar stage they are incredibly picky about what kind of plant they will eat and only have one host plant—Milkweed (Asclepias)— and milkweed is becoming increasingly rare. And as with all butterflies, if you want butterflies, you have to provide the host plant for the caterpillar.

Monarch Caterpillar

Fortunately, there are over 100 species of milkweed, so no matter where you are in the country, chances are there’s a milkweed native to your area. You’ll also need to provide nectar providing plants for the migrating, so make sure you research what’s native to your area and plant nectar sources that will be blooming when the Monarchs migrate through your area, especially fall blooming Asters

Monarch on Aster

And while you are learning what you need to provide to become a Certified Waystation, go ahead and see what other certifications might be available to you. Here in North Carolina, those of us trying to incorporate as many native plants into the garden can be certified as a Native Plant Habitat by the NC Native Plant Society. In Colorado you can even take classes to become a Native Plant Master, which I think would go nicely with my Master Composter certification!

You’re doing all the hard work to provide for wildlife anyway, and your friends and neighbors already think you’re certifiable, so prove them right!