The National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Community Wildlife Habitat® program partners with cities, towns, counties, neighborhoods and communities of all kinds to become healthier, greener and more wildlife-friendly. Through this program communities can enhance and restore islands and corridors of wildlife habitat in urban and suburban areas nationwide, while at the same time connecting to existing work around climate resiliency, community resiliency, urban forestry, water conservation, beautification, and more.
Communities earn community-wide certification by certifying individual properties (homes, parks, schools, businesses, and others) in their community as Certified Wildlife Habitats and by doing education and outreach in their community.
Master Gardener Ellen Falbowski learned of the NWF program online and decided to certify her property. She and Katherine Kosiba of the Colchester Garden Club co-chaired the effort to get their town certified. They approached the Colchester Land Trust with the idea. Although the two organizations had not joined forces before, Cathy Shea, President of the land trust said she knew from the start that it would be a “perfect partnership!”
Katherine was totally committed to the effort. After taking an early retirement from a career in health insurance, she decided to certify in the UConn Master Gardener Program. “It changed my life, and has positively impacted so many things as a result,” Kosiba says. “These projects are very enriching, [and] have connected me to my community and the natural world around me.”
Colchester became the first town in Connecticut, and the 36th in the country, to become certified in 2010. This worthy designation came after more than a year of work by town residents, businesses, local government and nonprofit organizations to certify more than 130 properties as community wildlife habitats. These included 110 homes, four schools, four farms (including one vineyard), three businesses, one place of worship and 14 parks or preserves.
Every year since 2010, Colchester has met the standards for recertification. To maintain their status, communities are expected to continue educational programs on wildlife stewardship, complete community service projects and certify additional properties in their community.
For more information about what it takes to certify your home or community:
- Community certification: https://www.nwf.org/CommunityWildlifeHabitat
- Individual certification: https://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/Create/At-Home
- Starting the certification process: https://www.nwf.org/garden-for-wildlife/certify
- Native plants and butterflies in your area: https://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/About/Native-Plants
- Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Backyard: https://www.angieslist.com/articles/creating-wildlife-habitat-your-backyard.htm