How many of you have the National Wildlife Federation Certification? Yes, I have my plaque but it is not something I readily show. It is an organization I support, but did you notice the certification process was changed? I wanted to know why too.
I was staying at my cousin’s Pennsylvania home a few weeks ago and she has her NWF sign displayed within her garden. Her garden is one planted in some native plants, one that has thick hedges, tall trees, many weeds, and all the amenities that make for a great place for birds, mammals and insects to feed and raise young.
There is a certain amount of disorder too which wildlife adores. Do I think she should be certified? Absolutely, so what is the issue?
Well it is how certification is obtained. They changed certification to divide the wildlife portion from that of the birds. Two fees are required and only one of them, the birds, required proving the site is certifiable. Yes folks, gone is the process of ACTUALLY PROVING you have a site worth certification for the backyard. When I looked to get my property certified many years ago, there was a process of documentation with pages to fill out and many photographs to justify the application.
Now when I called and asked about this change, it is the honor system used to qualify a backyard. Granted, you only get to talk to someone wanting your money, so I could not get the real reason why this change was made. “It was to make the process easier and faster,” the representative said. It did not need to be easier and faster in my opinion, it needed to be authentic.
Today, they ask you to click the bubbles of what you have that applies. At the end of an online process taking minutes, you get a habitat number, provided you give them your credit card number.
I am disappointed in this process. ANYBODY CAN GET ONE WITH THE FEE based on the honor system. Pick your fee too, or buy both. It very much seems it is to increase the number of people qualifying and of course, increase donations. I think I preferred the way things were, rather than the new process.
A minimum of three listed items is all you need to qualify in each of two categories, one in another if I remember correctly. You just get a better sign if you pay more money. I see this as a little too easy and minimally a process, and one not necessarily affording the most benefit to the wildlife from the standpoint of the homeowner’s qualifications.
Have you seen my sign?
See it? No… Look again.
I am not one to make note of it on my blog. My garden is special to the wildlife, not an easy to get certification that says it is. I used to be proud my property qualified for certification. It just seems a little less authentic now.
Why did they change the process? I have no actual idea why, yet have a hunch. Is it possible that it occurred around the time of all the hoopla that happened when they made the move to work with Scotts?
I did call and ask why the process was made simpler. The representative did not say it had anything to do with the mess in 2012, but did say it was a relatively recent change.
Many people must have stopped supporting them at that time last year. I think they got entangled in a PR nightmare with many swearing to take down their NWF certification signs. Many opponents cited that they were in it for the money, but what are they doing now with this easy and overly convenient, divided certification process? $$$$
Non-profits are in the business of generating money, there is no question on that. They need it for lobbying to amend conservation laws and policy, and in the case of many nature and wildlife non-profits, buy needed lands for wildlife corridors and sensitive habitats.
I support organizations such as theirs and I was never one to come out and pompously say I was pulling support on something I might have reacted to through emotion and not reasoning. Did all the vocal gardeners ruin the NWF by making life miserable for the them? Did they cause Scotts to pull back on worthwhile programs or possibly become a better environmental citizen (unlikely, but one can always hope)? The passionate pressuring may have stopped the joint venture of wishfully, compatible partnering, but what did it do for the long term? Did the bad PR affect the donation drive?
I very much like the work the NWF is doing in conservation and always felt they do it for the right reason. I would like if the certification process was less easy to get for homeowners. When I discussed it with my cousin, she had the impression it too was about the money. I like to think it is about so much more.
Next two (very long and photo rich) posts explore that and I give you my take on that infamous debate. I never agreed with what the majority of bloggers were posting or threatening to do. I looked to what good might have resulted and tell you why in the next two posts. It is always about the money…and I know what happens if it isn’t.