What National Wildlife Week Means To Me

1974 National Wildlife Week PosterThe endangered gray wolf was the poster child of the 1974 National Wildlife Week, whose theme was “We Care About Endangered Wildlife.”

It’s also the reason that I came to work for the National Wildlife Federation in 1986.

In 1974, I was 17 and a senior in high school. A National Wildlife Week poster was distributed to our school, and I fell in love – right then, right there – with both the gray wolf and the thought that as an individual, I could actually do something about endangered species and other conservation issues.

My major in college was Biology, but I actually started working in the business field after school. I moved back to northern Virginia (where NWF’s headquarters is located) when I got married, and after a few years of somewhat interesting, but not really challenging, work in the private sector, I applied for a job at NWF in 1986.

I loved what NWF did and stood for, and I thought, “How cool it would be to be able to actually work there?” When I came in for my interview, you won’t believe what I saw! In the hallway leading to the lobby, there was a National Wildlife Week poster from every year hanging on the walls. The one that caught my eye, of course, was my old friend, the gray wolf. It was like his eyes were telling me, “Welcome home – where’ve you been?”

I got the job at NWF, and have loved every minute since. After I’d been at NWF for about 10 years, we had a brown bag lunch, which is where one of our staff gives a presentation on a specific topic. On that day, Tom Dougherty, our Missoula, MT office director at the time, was in the office with a live wolf! I could barely contain myself! As I sat through a wonderful presentation on the reintroduction efforts of the endangered gray wolf to its native lands, I remember thinking to myself that this was a perfect example of the importance of the National Wildlife Federation’s work.

At least 25 years had gone by between the time of the 1974 National Wildlife Week poster and when wolf reintroduction occurred, and it really brought home to me that one of the strengths of NWF is its constancy and “never give up” attitude, especially when it comes to safeguarding wildlife and habitat, and educating people about the importance of doing so.

I am so incredibly lucky – I get to live my dream of helping to make the world a little better place, and I’m so very proud to work at the National Wildlife Federation. My wish is that every kid, parent, and citizen can be inspired by the National Wildlife Week posters, themes, or activities, and take an action that makes a difference for us all.

Celebrating National Wildlife Week