One-third of all U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades, according to America’s largest conservation organization, the National Wildlife Federation. Since 1936, the federation’s mission to preserve landscape and wildlife and to educate and promote lifelong connections have informed hikers, campers, gardeners, hunters, anglers, birders and other outdoor enthusiasts across the country.

Even home gardeners have been getting a boost —many pandemically-constrained people have examined their home patches and decided to make their own personal commitment to the environment, by either creating native plant gardens, or expanding existing gardens that incorporate elements of food, water, cover and places for wildlife to raise their young.

Certified Wildlife Habitat is a signature program of National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife movement, educating the public on the importance of plants, wildlife and people in the creation of sustainable landscapes that require little to no pesticides, fertilizers, or excess watering. Landscapes that help keep water and air resources clean.

One may ponder why a certain raccoon, Ranger Rick, is one of the key players in promotions launched by the federation, as the masked bandits are notable for their deft nighttime invasions of bird feeders and peanut installations. But, Ranger Rick has been around since 1959 and has recently turned up on handsome new signs certified habitat gardeners may purchase

So, if you think yours is a garden which offers food, water and cover for wild critters, and if you want to support the myriad projects of the federation, get certified. First, you join NWF for $20. Funds go to both local and national projects. Then you apply for certification, by running through the requirements. If they are met, you receive a “personalized certificate,” plus a one-year membership in the National Wildlife Federation and subscription to National Wildlife Magazine; 10 percent off the National Wildlife Federation catalog merchandise, including nesting boxes, feeders, birdbaths, and other items to enhance your wildlife garden; and a subscription to the monthly Garden for Wildlife e-newsletter with gardening tips, wildlife stories and other resources.

After that you may buy, display and brag on your $30 Certified Wildlife Habitat sign, each one individualized per state. NWF is a non-profit, so it needs the dough. While it provides reams of how- to advice online, it also sells apparel, kids’ toys and puzzles, even Ranger Rick facemasks, bedding, lighting and on and on. Check out http://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife Also, http://www.shopnwf.org

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