Working for Wildlife

Education resources for at-home learning, a new NWF film, an inclusive summit for women and more

  • Delaney McPherson
  • Conservation
  • Feb 01, 2021

Education Programs and Initiatives

Resources for virtual learning 

A young boy taking pictures with his camera

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many families struggling to facilitate online learning for their kids. To support them, the National Wildlife Federation has compiled online resources that caregivers, educators and kids can use to enhance home education.

The Federation’s Early Childhood Health Outdoors™ website, for example, suggests outdoor activities designed to inspire curiosity and exploration, including water play, gardening and tepee building. And Ranger Rick® magazines are providing parent and family guides with monthly lessons and enrichment activities related to each issue.

A young girl writing in a field

For older kids, Eco-Schools USA has created new at-home modules that allow individual students to complete conservation goals related to topics such as biodiversity, energy and sustainable foods. And the Schoolyard Habitats® program offers tools for educators to create outdoor classrooms, a safer option for in-person learning. At the high school and college levels, NWF’s EcoLeaders® program has a robust online presence that provides resources for starting environmental projects, pursuing careers in conservation and learning about the Campus Race to Zero Waste, a waste-reduction challenge for colleges and universities.

These resources are designed to be usable regardless of limitations to outdoor spaces, so activities can be done on a balcony or patio or in a yard or park. “We’ve pulled these together to support folks where they are, with the access they have,” says Liz Soper, director of K-12 education programs. Throughout 2021, NWF will continue to offer content and support to families and students seeking to broaden their environmental education.


A ship dropping a repurposed steam tank into the water

Alabama Wildlife Federation

Making a difference

Founded by sportsmen in 1935, the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) focuses its work on three areas: conservation education, resource stewardship and hunting and angling heritage. 

Last August, in partnership with Alabama Power Company, AWF deployed the first of 26 reefs made from repurposed steam tanks (above) in the new AWF Nearshore Artificial Reef Zone. These artificial reefs, along with 25 more that are planned, will provide habitat to both juvenile and adult reef fish and enhance fishing opportunities for anglers.

Additionally, AWF has two resource stewardship biologists on staff who travel throughout the state and work directly with landowners to develop land-management strategies to benefit both landowners and wildlife. “You never know when you meet a landowner what habitats you’ll discuss,” says Claude Jenkins, senior biologist. “We could be working in the hardwood regions to the Black Belt prairie part of the state to the Gulf Coast.” Depending on the region and landscape, the biologists may recommend plantings, prescribed burns, water drawdowns or other management tactics. The team specializes in longleaf pine ecosystems and native grasslands, which provide habitat to many grassland bird species such as northern bobwhites

Even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, AWF has kept up its work providing outdoor-classroom technical assistance and resources to more than 390 enrolled schools across the state. Active on social media, AWF posts land and wildlife management tips, wild game recipes and more to keep people engaged and focused on conservation.


A man in a boat holding a fish

NWF Releases Film

"Against the Current"

Last October, the NWF Great Lakes Regional Center released a new film, Against the Current, that highlights the national risk invasive Asian carp (above) pose. The carp overpopulate waterways and jump dangerously when disturbed, which threatens other wildlife species, tourism, tribal fisheries and more. The film travels through waterways from Michigan to Tennessee showing these threats and features perspectives from tribal leaders, scientific experts and representatives from NWF affiliates Indiana Wildlife Federation, Prairie Rivers Network and Tennessee Wildlife Federation.


A portrait of  Rae Wynn-Grant with a bear cub

Women in Conservation Leadership

Summit addresses inclusion

From October 13 to 15 last year, NWF hosted its third biennial Women in Conservation Leadership™ (WCL) summit—a major logistical undertaking due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally planned as an in-person gathering in March, the summit shifted to a virtual event in the fall. And given the national protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement—and NWF’s commitment to promoting equity and justice in conservation—organizers chose to focus the event on racial equity and justice and building a more-inclusive community. 

“We had to figure out how to be respectful of the moment and acknowledge the undue burden that these challenges are placing on women—especially women of color—and especially during the pandemic,” says WCL Program Manager Elizabeth Lillard

To honor those intentions, organizers scheduled numerous speakers and panelists who could voice the perspectives of Black and Brown women. Rae Wynn-Grant (above), a large-carnivore ecologist, gave the keynote address and spoke about how people of color’s voices often are left out of conversations and decisions in conservation. The First Lady of Palau, Debbie Remengesau, gave a video address about the strides her Pacific island nation has made in conservation, including requiring all tourists to sign an eco-pledge. Panel discussions and breakout sessions on subjects such as feminism in conservation and the leadership of Native peoples gave participants a chance to learn, network and share their personal and professional experiences. In the end, the summit was a huge success, with 700 women from around the world registered.


A young girl on a nature scavenger hunt

New Partnership

Green Hour website

In November—as part of a new partnership with L.L.Bean—NWF unveiled its Green Hour website, which features outdoor activities for kids. The Green Hour program encourages children to spend at least an hour a day outside, which research shows can benefit them both physically and mentally. The website will be updated weekly with interactive activities such as going on leaf hunts, creating nature journals and playing bird bingo, all to help kids spend meaningful time in nature. “Our purpose is to inspire and enable people to experience the restorative power of being outside,” says Shawn Gorman, executive chairman of L.L.Bean and great-grandson of the company’s founder. “The stresses of the pandemic make outdoor time even more important. Our partnership with the National Wildlife Federation is intended to provide parents with some relief and kids with some fun ways to play outside.”


More from National Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation:

Stopping Carp Ripple Effects »
Environmental Education Goes Virtual: Creating Meaningful Learning Opportunities at Home »
From Screen Time to Green Time: L.L.Bean, National Wildlife Team Up to Help Parents Get Their Kids Outdoors»
Read Last Issue's Working for Wildlife »

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