A New Level of Habitat Stewardship
Only a few more months remain in my AmeriCorps service term as the Education Outreach Coordinator for the Northern Rockies, Prairies and Pacific Region. Time has flown by, and it is incredible to look back and recognize the Habitat Stewards that have dedicated themselves to creating a space for wildlife habitat in Washington.
Since the National Wildlife Federation built the Habitat Stewards Training curriculum in 1994, the program has grown to become a keystone volunteer program that is comprised of 24 hours of in-class education on how to create, preserve, and restore areas of habitat in participants’ backyards, neighborhoods, or communities.
During the training, the stewards attend four evening classes and a Saturday field session that creates a well-rounded understanding of securing areas for wildlife. Afterwards, the stewards have one year to complete their wildlife habitat stewardship project.
Located north of Seattle, Everett is the home to the first Habitat Stewards training of my service term. The training included focused information on pollinators, gardening for wildlife, northwest ecology and more. “I really enjoyed the speakers and their vast knowledge of our region and wildlife” said Gayle Dianne Buck, a Habitat Steward.
The training had a field session where the class toured demonstration gardens that were created by the Edmonds Community Wildlife Habitat Team and the Mukilteo Community Wildlife Habitat Team. Emily Olson, a Habitat Steward shared that her “favorite part was meeting with [them] to tour their gardens”.
In the cold winter months of February and March, a second Habitat Stewards training occurred in Bellevue. The structure was the same as the first, but there was a unique opportunity for the stewards to attend the NW Flower and Garden Show to hear NWF’s Naturalist, David Mizejewski present about attracting birds, butterflies and other backyard wildlife.
Afterwards, the stewards visited NWF’s outreach booth and one Habitat Steward, Emily Chang remarked that she “especially liked the trip since it let [her] experience what it is like to work in a booth and meet people.”
April showers brought May flowers for the Olympia Habitat Stewards. They learned about the many aspects of habitat restoration during presentations on native plant gardening and “naturescaping”. Josiah Anderson, a Habitat Steward, commented that he “enjoyed learning more about native plants that can function in a backyard habitat.”
On Arbor Day, the stewards attended the City of Olympia’s celebration that included an enhancement project of Priest Point Park. First, they attended an aquatic habitat workshop that gave an introduction about watersheds and a brief background of the park. Next, they pulled English Ivy, an invasive plant that is not native to the area. Afterwards, they planted native vine maple and other plants in the cleared area.
Jeff Parsley, a Habitat Steward, mentioned that they “changed the park for the better” and are now part of the network of people committed to habitat preservation, conservation and restoration.
If you are interested in taking your stewardship to a new level, come learn how to preserve and restore habitat for wildlife at the next Habitat Stewards Training in Kitsap, WA.
About the Author: Sarah Lane is an AmeriCorps member serving with the National Wildlife Federation in Seattle, WA as the Education Outreach Coordinator. She is working on supporting the existing Community Wildlife Teams by coordinating Habitat Stewards Trainings and presenting about Gardening for Wildlife at local community events. She graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology and a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish.