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Affiliate of the Week: Alabama Wildlife Federation
In honor of our 80th Anniversary celebration throughout 2016, the National Wildlife Federation is recognizing each of our Affiliate Partners in a special “Affiliate of the Week” blog series that showcases the dedicated conservation efforts taking place across the country each day. This week we celebrate our affiliate, the Alabama Wildlife Federation, and their commitment to wildlife.
Who We Are
Established in 1935 by sportsmen, the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) is the oldest and largest non-profit conservation organization in Alabama. Their mission is to promote the conservation of Alabama’s wildlife and related natural resources — through wise use and responsible stewardship of our wildlife, forests, fish, soils, water, and air — to support the social and economic prosperity of current and future Alabamians.
What We Do
AWF has a programmatic footprint in every county in the state through activities in one or more of our three primary focus areas:
- Conservation Education: Through the Discovering Our Heritage Program (DOH), teachers are guided in the use of outdoor-based subject matter to teach math, science and social studies in the classroom. The Outdoor Classroom Program helps schools develop and effectively utilize outdoor learning areas to teach math, science, social studies, language arts and other core educational aspects. Inside AWF’s new NaturePlex, a 23,000 square feet structural facility, is the hands-on Discovery Hall, where students can see live animals, skins and skulls, and other wildlife-related displays.
- Resource Stewardship: Since 1994, AWF has assisted over 1,000 landowners, helping make management recommendations on more than a half-million acres of land in Alabama, through projects including AWF Land Stewardship Assistance Program and Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Restoration Project.
- Hunting and Angling: As an integral part of AWF’s wildlife and natural resource conservation mission, AWF works with other organizations to promote hunting and fishing. AWF celebrates the conservation role of hunting and angling through programs such as AWF Wild Game Cook-Offs, Alabama Quail Trail, Operation GameWatch, AWF Youth Fishing Rodeo and various other Youth and Women’s Hunting and Angling related events. The goal of the Alabama Quail Trail is to focus the interest and resources in quail hunting, quail research and quail conservation in a manner that achieves benefits for quail and stimulates rural economic development opportunities.
Making a National Impact
The growing need to connect today’s youth with our nation’s natural heritage and create the next generation of conservationists is a priority for the National Wildlife Federation and our affiliates across the country. Recognizing the growing disconnect between children (tomorrow’s leaders) and the land, AWF elevated conservation education to priority status in 1994. AWF works to educate their community about the proper use, management and restoration of the state’s wildlife, forests, fish, waters and soil.
After spearheading development of the Discovering Our Heritage Program, which provided a guide for teacher use of nature, natural history and outdoor themes to assist with classroom learning, and the Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program, which provided guidance on establishing outdoor learning sites on school grounds, the AWF Board set its sights on the next step.
The Alabama Nature Center, a world-class outdoor education facility that provides a wide variety of conservation education activities, was completed in 2007. The 2015 addition of the NaturePlex is an empowering extension of the Alabama Nature Center, allowing AWF to reach additional youth and adults with the same conservation message.
The Alabama Wildlife Federation also works to conserve local wildlife. AWF is part of the Alabama Artificial Reef Plan, supporting native marine species and habitat, and is a partner of the Alabama Black Bear Alliance – a coalition of diverse interests that work together for the conservation of the black bear through research, education, and habitat management.
As a private, charitable organization, AWF is governed by a high-functioning Board of Directors that insures organizational and financial stability and is generously supported by over 25,000 members and supporters geographically distributed across the state that promote the organization’s activities.
Field trips for public, private, and home school groups are a primary focus of the Alabama Nature Center, and new features of the NaturePlex are a part of that experience. Interested youth or school groups can choose from pre-designed or customized programs developed by Alabama Nature Center professionals. Facilities at the NaturePlex can also be reserved for seminars, conferences, business meetings and social events by contacting AWF.
Daily admission to the NaturePlex is only $5.00 per person, which allows you to enjoy five miles of boardwalks and trails, explore the new Discovery Hall, view scheduled movies in the new theater, visit the gift shop, and participate in scheduled, nature-infused programming led by our Alabama Nature Center professionals. There are planned activities going on all the time at the NaturePlex. See the full schedule of events on AWF’s website: http://www.alabamawildlife.org/natureplex/.
AWF also has several scheduled Wild Game Cook-Offs coming up that you will want to make plans to attend from February to May.