Standing Together Against Violence

The National Wildlife Federation is a big tent organization that brings together Americans from all walks of life, all political stripes, and all corners of our nation to ensure wildlife thrive in our rapidly changing world.

Our Federation includes fifty state and territorial affiliate organizations and six million members and supporters. In my travels to meet all fifty of our affiliates, I’ve witnessed firsthand that our Federation is a fabric as diverse and layered as our country: conservatives and progressives; Republicans, Democrats, and Independents; women and men; people of color and Caucasians; people of all faiths; members of the LGBTQ community; individuals with disabilities; veterans; and many others.

Our Federation’s broad diversity is our strength and collaboration is our brand. I have seen folks from widely disparate backgrounds repeatedly find ways to collaborate with each other, work out their differences, and make progress for conservation. They may disagree on the role of government, the most effective strategies or tactics, or the priorities for limited funding, but in each case these amazing conservationists have come together for conservation and found ways forward that were almost always better than where they started.

This stands in stark contrast to the violence and hate speech that too many Americans, including several members of the National Wildlife Federation family, are experiencing across our nation. There is no place for violence or hate speech in conservation… or anywhere in society. 

It’s not enough to simply hope that these attacks stop; we must not embolden prejudice through silence but instead must renounce violence and hate speech against people of color, non-Christians, LGBTQ people, or anyone else targeted for bigotry. The National Wildlife Federation will continue to vigilantly oppose and speak out against violence and intolerance.

Two years ago, the Federation’s fifty affiliates gathered at our annual convention and unanimously adopted a “We Believe” statement that sets out the values of our Federation. In it, our affiliates stated:

grand-canyon-pixabay“We embrace a national responsibility… to broaden the conservation movement so that it encompasses America in all its diversity. We dedicate ourselves to share respectfully with our neighbors our understanding and appreciation of our natural environment, of conservation, of cultural preservation, and of America’s outdoor heritage. We commit to nurturing with resources, attention, and talent a diverse national conservation movement that inspires local, state, and national action and engagement on issues that transcend political boundary.”

Respect. Inclusion. Collaboration. Diversity. Equity. Non-partisanship. These are values that the National Wildlife Federation holds dear.

As Americans, we have proven throughout our history that we can do great things when we stand together; that our greatest strength comes from our nation’s rich diversity of cultures, beliefs, ideas, and experiences.

At a time when our nation faces unprecedented challenges — including unparalleled threats to America’s wildlife and our natural resources — embracing and supporting the full diversity of America is needed now more than ever.

Collin O’Mara is president and chief executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation

Published: November 17, 2016