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NWF Certified Wildlife Habitats Coming to a College Near You!
National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program has been helping individuals and communities certify their wildlife habitats and take action on behalf of wildlife since 1973. The program engages homeowners, businesses, schools, colleges, churches, parks and other groups that are committed to making their communities wildlife friendly. Currently there are more than 170,000 certified habitats nationwide, Wildlife habitats are important to year-round wildlife residents including the Cardinal in Virginia, as well as species that migrate, such as the Monarch butterfly that flies to Mexico in the fall each year. Wildlife habitats not only provide homes for wildlife, but provide a great space for people to enjoy the outdoors and learn about native plants and animals. According to NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program, there are four basic elements required to be certified:
- Food: Native plants provide wildlife with nectar, seeds and barriers used by an exciting variety of wildlife, and feeders can supplement natural food sources.
- Water: All animals (including humans) need water to survive and some need it for bathing or breeding as well.
- Places to Raise Young: Wildlife need space habitat for bearing and raising young.
- Cover: Wildlife need places to find shelter from bad weather and predators.
Several hundred colleges and universities in the U.S. have certified their campus wildlife habitats—gardens, forests, wetlands, and more—through National Wildlife Federation. In March 2009, Doane College Crete campus in Nebraska, also known as the Osterhout Arboretum, was recognized by NWF for its beauty and attention to native species as a certified wildlife habitat. The designation recognizes the 300 acre, 137 year old campus, for creating wildlife havens.
Osterhout is the home to more than 160 species of trees and shrubs, including 100-year-old groves of pine, ash, pin oak and catalpa trees. The arboretum has a variety of flowering bushes and plants, ponds, an outdoor amphitheater, a natural spring, fountains, bridges, prairie areas, wetlands and fitness and nature trails – many great features that benefit all creatures, including humans.
Doane’s Wildlife and Conservation Organization student chapter took the initiative and applied for NWF certification. Other accolades for Doane include being the first college to become a member of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, and the first in the state to be designated as a Groundwater Guardian Green Site by the Groundwater Foundation – the school limits their use of chemicals on lawns, and also implements water conservation practices.
Doane’s Osterhout Arboretum became an officially registered arboretum in 1978. It is are currently listed in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a comprehensive list and database of currently more than 850 arboreta in the U.S. and internationally. The Morton Arboretum has compiled the Morton Register as part of the ArbNet website identifying organizations that collect and display trees, shrubs, and other woody plants for the benefit of the public, science, and conservation.
The State University of New York Rockland Community College partnered with AmeriCorps and United Water Company to restore a wildlife habitat on campus as an ecological and educational resource. This ongoing project started in the summer of 2008. Restoration efforts have included performing a natural resources inventory to identify the appropriate plants to enhance the habitat. A trail was built with rocks and mulch, and a guide was developed for campus and community visitors to emphasize diversity, sustainability, food webs, watershed protection, prevention of pollution, and growth of invasive plants. The trail is used by Rockland college students, and more than 400 local k-12 school kids have visited.
A policy was also developed in conjunction with the trail project to prohibit the use of pesticides on campus. “Earning the NWF Wildlife Habitat Certification and posting the signs gave significant recognition to the project” says Susan Brydon Golz, PhD, Professor of Science.