The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is dedicated to protecting and restoring wildlife habitat in order to leave a legacy of healthy wildlife for the next generation. Built on a network of state affiliates, the National Wildlife Federation “encourages sustainable conservation policy and promotes transparent natural resource management.”1 Additionally, they advocate for policies on the local, state, and federal level to increase outdoor opportunities for children to connect with nature as well as offering their own programs to encourage everyone's hands-on involvement with nature.2
The roots of the American conservation policy started when the Supreme Court ruled in 1872 that wildlife belonged to the people. Over the next several decades, as wildlife species were being hunted toward extinction, hunters and anglers demanded game laws that would moderate the hunting in order to sustain healthy wildlife populations. By 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt furthered the conservation movement by establishing 230 million acres of national protected landscapes.3
The Dust Bowl of the 1930s, which was due to unsustainable farming practices that had been encouraged by the federal government, became the focus of Iowa cartoonist Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling. Ding's cartoons and passion concerning conservation led to his appointment in 1934 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the head of the U.S. Biological Survey.4
Two year later, in 1936, Ding convinced President Roosevelt to invite 2,000 hunters, anglers, and conservationists to the first North American Wildlife Conference in Washington, D.C. At that conference the General Wildlife Federation was formed for “uniting sportsmen and all outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts behind the common goal of conservation.”5 The enthusiasm of the national conference carried back to the states where federations were formed as state affiliates. Ding became the president of the national organization, which was later renamed the National Wildlife Federation.6
The challenges of the 21st century, which are now the focus of the National Wildlife Federation, are the effects of global warming, the loss of wildlife habitat, and this generation's increasing disconnection with nature. As remedies, they are advocating the reduction of carbon pollution through the education of the American public and through legislation to change the nation's energy policies. Closely related to global warming is the loss of wildlife habitats. The National Wildlife Federation is focusing on the protection of crucial ecosystems for native wildlife, such as the grizzly bear, wild salmon, Florida panther, and whooping crane.7
The National Wildlife Federation is also concerned that outdoor time for children has decreased by nearly 90% contributing to the fact that today's children are growing up isolated from nature.8 This concern has led to the establishment of a variety of NWF programs “to make experiencing the benefits of free time outdoors easy.”9
Their Be Out There Initiative includes such programs as the Green Hour, an hour of unstructured play and interaction with nature each day; Wildlife Watch, learn and track the health and behavior of wildlife and plant life; Hike and Seek, a combination of nature hike and scavenger hunt; Gardening for Wildlife; and Nature Find, an information center for locating and planning outdoor adventures.10
The National Wildlife Federation also supports two national events: the National Wildlife Week in March and the Great American Backyard Campout on the fourth Saturday each June. These events and programs are supported by NWF's award-winning children's magazine, Ranger Rick.11
Through these programs of advocacy, education, and activities, the National Wildlife Federation is “the voice of conservation for diverse constituencies that include hunters, anglers, gardeners, bird watchers, scientists, outdoor enthusiasts, and families raising the next generation of habitat stewards.”12
- 1. “National Wildlife Federation Today.” National Wildlife Federation. < http://www.nwf.org/About/History-and-Heritage/NWF-Today.aspx > 11 Oct. 2011.
- 2. “Our Work Connecting People to Nature.” National Wildlife Federation. < http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/What-We-Do.aspx > 11 Oct. 2011.
- 3. “Our History and Heritage.” National Wildlife Federation. < http://www.nwf.org/About/History-and-Heritage.aspx > 11 Oct. 2011.
- 4. “Creation of National Wildlife Federation.” National Wildlife Federation. < http://www.nwf.org/About/History-and-Heritage/Creation-of-NWF.aspx > 11 Oct. 2011.
- 5. Ibid.
- 6. Ibid.
- 7. “Our Mission.” National Wildlife Federation. < http://www.nwf.org/About/Out-Mission.aspx > 11 Oct. 2011.
- 8. Ibid.
- 9. Op.cit., “Our Work Connecting People to Nature.”
- 10. Op.cit., “Our Work Connecting People to Nature.”
- 11. Op.cit., “Our Mission.”
- 12. Op.cit., “Our History and Heritage.”