National Wildlife Federation

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National Wildlife Federation
Founded 1936
Founder Jay Norwood Darling
Focus Environmentalism
Area served
United States
Method Education, training, research, lobbying
Over 4,000,000 [1]
President & CEO
Collin O'Mara[2]
$88,102,000 USD (2008)[3]
Slogan "To inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future."

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is the United States' largest private, nonprofit conservation education and advocacy organization, with over four million members and supporters, and 48 state and territorial affiliated organizations. The NWF strives to remain "A national network of like-minded state and territorial groups, seeking balanced, common-sense solutions to environmental problems that work for wildlife and people." Its mission statement is "to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future."[4]

History and mission

On March 1, 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed political cartoonist Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling to be the chief of the U.S. Biological Survey. At Darling's behest, the president oversaw plans to convene a conference in Washington D.C. to unite individuals, organizations and agencies interested in the restoration and conservation of wildlife resources. The conference took place from February 3–7, 1936, and was called the North American Wildlife Conference.[5]

At this conference, an organization called the General Wildlife Federation was created; Darling was elected president. The first annual meeting was held March 3, 1937, in St. Louis, Missouri. The General Wildlife Federation became the National Wildlife Federation in 1938.[5] The numbers of members of this Federation increased from 2.3 million in 1968 to 4.1 million in 1974.[6]

Its three main areas of focus are:

  1. connecting people to nature
  2. reversing global warming
  3. protecting and restoring critical wildlife habitats

The National Wildlife Federation unites sportsmen, outdoor enthusiasts, bird-watchers, wildlife gardeners, nature lovers and others, bringing together a broad spectrum of people who share a passionate concern for wildlife. Affiliates from across the country have created a national network of like-minded state and local groups who seek balanced, common-sense solutions to environmental problems.

To achieve its mission, NWF offers the following services to individuals, organizations, and businesses: accessible conservation training, leadership training, educational curricula, information outreach, and networking opportunities. NWF frequently partners with other conservation organizations and corporations to achieve its goals.

NWF seeks to educate people of all ages by publishing a variety of wildlife magazines, including Ranger Rick, Ranger Rick Jr., and National Wildlife Magazine, and by the Backyard Habitat series on Discovery's Animal Planet along with IMAX films, such as Coral Reef Adventure, India: Kingdom of the Tiger, Bears, Wolves, and Dolphins. Additionally, the NWF offers hands-on training and support for habitat restoration through its Backyard Wildlife Habitat and Schoolyard Habitat programs.

NWF also created Conservation Summits (a harbinger of eco-tourism and green living trends) with the first Summit on July 20–25, 1970 at the YMCA of the Rockies, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. There have been 111 Summits since 1970, with notable environmental educators, naturalists, authors, and artists such as Robert Michael Pyle, Jim Halfpenny, Roger Tory Peterson, Clare Walker Leslie, Annie Tiberio Cameron, and NWF 33-year employee and Chief Naturalist Craig Tufts (1946–2009) all on faculty at many Summits. Week-long Summits have been held most frequently in Colorado, North Carolina, and New York, but also in Wisconsin, California, Maine, Washington, Wyoming, Utah, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, and other locations. The NWF changed the name to Family Summits in 2000. In 2006, several longtime Summiteers formed a non-profit corporation, Family Summits, Inc., to take over the project; they continue the tradition under the name Family Nature Summits.

Some of NWF's specific conservation priorities include: seeking solutions to global warming; strengthening the Endangered Species Act; combating invasive species; saving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling; restoring America's waterways; reforming the Army Corps of Engineers; and educating future environmental stewards.

NWF's headquarters is currently located in Reston, Virginia, overlooking a wildlife sanctuary. The land they now occupy, on the border of Reston and Lake Fairfax Park, had been used as a garbage dump for many years; the NWF cleaned up and rehabilitated the land before moving into the site in 2001.[7] On Earth Day 2002, the NWF was given an award by the American Institute of Architects for their Reston headquarters being one of the Top Ten "Green" Projects.[8]

Current programs

The National Wildlife Federation continues its involvement in many leading environmental issues facing the country today, particularly in the areas of land stewardship, air quality, water resources, and wildlife conservation.

Magazines, TV shows and movie partnerships

National Wildlife Federation publishes three magazines: National Wildlife Magazine (for adults) Ranger Rick (for children aged 7–12) and Ranger Rick Jr. (for children aged 4–7).

NWF also produces a TV show, Wild Animal Baby Explorers, and is the education partner for various feature films, including Born to Be Wild 3D, Nim's Island, Where the Wild Things Are (film).

Heritage Farm
at the Rio Grande Botanic Garden
a Certified Wildlife Habitat

Certified Wildlife Habitats

The "Backyard Wildlife Habitat" program was started in 1973 with the purpose of showing people how to make their yards and their community friendly to local wildlife. Now the Certified Wildlife Habitat program, the criteria includes providing food, water, cover, and places to raise young through the use of native plants and other features such as nest boxes and water gardens. The habitat can be certified by the NWF as an official Certified Wildlife Habitat site if these elements are provided.[9]

Campus Ecology

The Campus Ecology program promotes climate leadership and sustainability among colleges and universities by providing resources, technical support, networking opportunities, and by organizing education events.[10] Campus Ecology provides case studies on various environmental projects that can be implemented on college and university campuses, a yearly teleconference series, memberships, and is part of the Energy Action Coalition, helping to fund the Coalition in its infancy.

Since 2000, the Campus Ecology program has awarded over 100 fellowships on more than 65 campuses to undergraduate and graduate students working on sustainability projects.[11] In 2006, the fellowship program shifted focus exclusively to student projects that focus on clean energy initiatives and conservation efforts.

In 2007, the Campus Ecology program launched the first Chill Out: Campus Solutions to Global Warming web broadcast. This annual event takes place each April. The webcast highlights winners of the NWF Chill Out competition [12] and has an interactive panel of climate experts and student videos.

Eco-Schools USA

Eco-Schools is an internationally acclaimed program that provides a framework to help educators integrate sustainable principles throughout their schools and curriculum. In December 2008, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) was granted Eco-School host status for K-12 schools in the United States. Through school-based action teams of students, administrators, educators and community volunteers, Eco-Schools USA combines effective "green" management of the school grounds, the facilities and the curriculum.[13]

Great American Backyard Campout

Every year, National Wildlife Federation picks a Saturday in June to encourage people to gather in their backyards, neighborhoods, communities and parks and join the Great American Backyard Campout to camp and reconnect with nature.[14]

Volunteer programs

The NWF runs an expansive network of volunteer programs that reaches over 10 million people.[15]

Some of the current programs include:[16]

  • Habitat Ambassadors
  • Habitat Steward Volunteers
  • Habitat Steward Hosts
  • Global Warming Ambassadors
  • Wildlife Literacy Ambassador
  • Behind the Scenes Volunteers
  • Gulf Restoration Volunteers

Plug-in vehicles

National Wildlife Federation has done a strong endorsement of PHEVs.[17]

Regional offices

Apart from its headquarters, the NWF runs ten regional offices across the United States.[18]

Chesapeake Mid-Atlantic Regional Center

The Chesapeake Mid-Atlantic office works with affiliates and partners across the region (Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina) to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay; the Delaware River Watershed; the Appalachian forests, rivers and flyways; and the extensive shoreline and coastal bay habitats of the Mid-Atlantic. The office has developed an aggressive plan to protect and restore the national treasures of the region, working with a team of experienced national and regional policy and advocacy experts. The Office also actively educates and mobilizes hunters, anglers, gardeners and other wildlife enthusiasts in the Mid-Atlantic to support climate solutions at all levels of government. [19]

Great Lakes Regional Center

The Great Lakes Natural Resource Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan focuses on global warming, Great Lakes restoration, Great Lakes water resources, Great Lakes water quality, Certified Wildlife Habitats, and wolves. It leads the Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition in the "Healthy Lakes, Healthy Lives" campaign. It focuses on the eight states in the Great Lakes region.[20]

Pacific Regional Center - Alaska

The Pacific Regional Center in Alaska focuses on global warming, renewable energy, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, sustainable tourism, and youth education in Alaska. Additionally, it works to preserve existing wildlife in Alaska, such as the caribou. The Pacific Regional Center in Alaska hosted the Alaska Youth for Environmental Action program from 1998 through 2011. AYEA, which is now a program of Alaska Center for the Environment, trains young people to be environmental leaders.[21][22]

Pacific Regional Center - Seattle

The landscapes along the Pacific Coast are among the most diverse in the country. From the desert to the coastal rainforests, and from Puget Sound to the "gems of the Pacific," the wildlife species that depend on these habitats in Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii are also diverse and among the most treasured by people throughout the world. NWF works hard to protect these habitats for the benefit of all wildlife and people—focusing especially on the protection and restoration of threatened and endangered species such as salmon. Climate change is expected to take a large toll on wildlife in the region, and NWF is working to help people understand and minimize the impacts. [23]

Northeast Regional Center

The Northeast Regional Center works mostly with state-based affiliates and local organizations to protect natural resources in New England. Its goals are to provide conservation leadership and protection for wildlife for generations to come.[24]

Northern Rockies and Prairies Regional Center

The Northern Rockies and Prairies Regional Center, located in Missoula, MT, focuses on protecting the fish and wildlife resources of the northern Rockies and their habitats. It covers the states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Idaho and works with state affiliates, individuals, and other groups to advocate for endangered species and public land management policies, and to increase public awareness. It has a strong interest in the Yellowstone ecosystem and runs a program to retire livestock grazing allotments that experience chronic conflict with wildlife, and on compensating ranchers for retiring their allotments.[25]

Rocky Mountain Regional Center

The Rocky Mountain Regional Center is located in Boulder, Colorado, and focuses on protecting public lands and wildlife of the American West. It also concerns itself with protecting and restoring wildlife habitat on tribal lands, strengthening protection for critical migratory bird habitat, providing training and resources to educators and homeowners, and promoting environmental education in the community.[26]

South Central Regional Center

The Gulf States Regional Center focuses four-state region of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Missouri and attempts to restore clean rivers and estuaries, conserve wetlands, springs, and natural river systems, protect wildlife populations, and promote sustainable land and water use. Like the overall NWF, it tries to educate children and adults about the natural world as well.[27]

Southeast Regional Center

The Southeast Regional Center attempts to protect public lands such as the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, endangered species such as the Florida Panther, and freshwater streams against sprawl development by working with affiliates and other organizations. It also attempts to engage students and other residents of the region to develop environmental leadership skills.[28]

National Advocacy Center

Located in Washington DC, the National Advocacy Center focuses on policy issues, grassroots outreach, law, government affairs, and media, to advances the NWF's national and international agenda. It focuses on Congress and other decision-making bodies to ensure environmental legislation is drafted and passed.


National Wildlife Federation's 47 affiliates are autonomous, grassroots organizations, conserving America's natural resources and protecting America's wildlife heritage. This collaboration between affiliates is the core of how National Wildlife Federation was formed, and represents a unique value that gives us a reach unlike any other conservation organization in the country. Affiliates establish National Wildlife Federation conservation policy and elect the majority of NWF Board of Directors. They bring diversity and advocacy skills and greatly enhance our ability to achieve common conservation goals.[29]

See also



External links