National Wildlife Federation
National Wildlife Federation
With over four million members or supporters, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is the country's largest and one of its most influential conservation organizations. The NWF has worked since 1936 to "promote wise use of the nation's wildlife and natural resources," and their primary goal is "to educate citizens about the need for sustainable use and proper management of our natural resources."
NWF sponsors National Wildlife Week, held during Earth Action Month, and it distributes over 620,000 education kits to more than 20 million students. NWF also operates the Institute for Wildlife Research, which concentrates on such creatures as bears, wild cats, and birds of prey. Their Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program distributes information and encourages homeowners to set up their own refuges for wild animals by providing food, water, and shelter, and by planting or preserving trees and shrubs and building backyard ponds. The program has certified more than 6,000 backyard habitats nationwide, and the group maintains a model backyard habitat at Laurel Ridge Conservation Center in Vienna, Virginia.
The National Wildlife Federation also sponsors a variety of nature-oriented meetings and programs. These include workshops and training sessions for grassroots leaders, chil dren's wildlife camps, Earth Tomorrow pilot launched in Detroit, Michigan, to encourage conservation among high school students, and NatureQuest, a leadership training program for young people. Other educational outreach programs designed to develop next generation conservationists include NatureLink for children 9-17 and Campus Ecology for universities. The organization also offers conservation internships, allowing young people to work with their professional staff; outdoor vacations for adults and families; symposiums and lectures on urban wildlife and gardening at the Laurel Ridge Conservation Center; and the National Conservation Achievement Awards, recognizing outstanding work in the field. Other NWF activities include producing large-format films, television programs, a biweekly column called "The Backyard Naturalist," and publishing books on wildlife for adults and children.
NWF's magazines have a combined circulation of 1.8 million, and include the bimonthly publications National Wildlife and International Wildlife for adults, Ranger Rick for elementary school children, Your Big Backyard for preschoolers and Wild Animal Baby for toddlers. NWF also publishes The Conservation Directory, a comprehensive listing of regional, national, and international conservation groups, agencies, and officials, and EnviroAction, an environmental news digest covering the latest topics and legislative/regulatory updates.
Each year, NWF issues its Environmental Quality Index, assessing the status of air, water, wildlife, and other natural resources , as well as the quality of life in America. It also coordinates a nationwide bald eagle count each year and distributes millions of its famous wildlife stamps. NWF has been involved in a wide range of political campaigns. They have challenged government strip mining and timber cutting programs, worked to upgrade the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cabinet-level status, helped strengthen enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act , and created the Corporate Conservation Council to encourage dialogue with industry on conservation issues.
Under the leadership of Mark Van Putten, the National Wildlife Federation differs from many other conservation groups in that the organization, and especially its 46 state affiliates, emphasizes "educating and empowering people to make a difference." This grassroots approach has led the NWF in such conservation efforts as returning gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Idaho, rallying support for the restoration of Florida's Everglades, imploring Congress to allow a portion of off-shore oil and gas leasing revenues to be used to fund environmental programs, publishing the "Higher Ground" report that illustrated how voluntary buyouts of flood-prone property would save tax dollars and restore natural habitat, and continuing to address global climate change and its effects on the world's animal and human populations.
[Jacqueline L. Longe ]