The National Wildlife Federation’s Education and Engagement Programs in the South Central Region are guided by the belief that both people and wildlife benefit when all Americans have clean air and water, safe communities, easy and equitable access to nature, and protection from the threats of climate change.
Our Pre-K-12 education programs aim to develop the next generation of conservationists as “systems thinkers” who can understand scientific principles, discern truth from misinformation, and successfully address environmental challenges of the future.
Our community-based outreach programs aim to educate the public about the critical role urban habitat plays in helping wildlife survive and equip them to take action for wildlife in their communities. By participating in NWF’s volunteer trainings and webinars, citizens learn how to create climate-resilient native habitats—at their homes and places of worship, along roadsides, and even in vacant lots--that help wildlife species to adapt to climate change.
Developed in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), Eco-Schools is a global sustainable-schools program operating in more than 50,000 schools in nearly 70 countries. The National Wildlife Federation has been the U.S. host for the program since 2008. Combining environment-based learning with hands-on experiences, the Eco-Schools program sparks action at Pre-K-12 schools that ripples out into the greater community and helps develop generations of sustainably minded, environmentally conscious citizens. The Eco-Schools Seven-Step Framework guides teams of students, teachers, and community members through work on up to twelve sustainability pathways. Progress on these pathways helps schools to save energy and water, reduce waste, increase biodiversity, green-up their campuses, and achieve other environmental goals. threatsEco-Schools USA recognizes schools’ achievements with a series of awards, moving from Bronze to Silver to the coveted Green Flag award. The ultimate goal of the program is to engage and empower students, teachers, and community members to live more sustainably.
Monarch Heroes is a two-year, project-based learning program, operating in Texas under NWF’s Eco-Schools USA program. Monarch Heroes engages and empowers Pre-K-12 students and community members to create Schoolyard Habitats in support of both the monarch butterfly and outdoor learning. In Year One, students learn how the monarch butterfly population has declined by as much as 90% in the past 20 years and what they can do to help. Campus teams create and maintain habitat gardens and encourage interdisciplinary use of the space. These gardens serve as critical sources of both native milkweed and nectar plants for monarch butterflies migrating through Texas. In Year Two, students improve the biodiversity of their Monarch Heroes habitats. They collect and report valuable citizen-science data to mapping sites like Journey North and iNaturalist. They also learn to grow milkweed and nectar plants from seed to expand the native habitat on campus and in their school community
Severe weather events and attendant flooding highlight enormous climate-resilience challenges facing coastal cities. The Student Resilience Ambassadors program (SRA) engages middle and high school students in climate-resilience education, particularly as it relates to flood mitigation. Guided by the Eco-Schools USA’s Watersheds, Oceans and Wetlands (WOW) pathway, students conduct a watershed audit and investigate stormwater-resilience problems facing their city. They determine the impact of those issues on water quality, and create practical solutions, using nature-based projects, that can help reduce local stormwater run-off and/or flooding on their school grounds. These easy-to-scale-and-replicate projects might include pocket prairies, rain gardens, bio-swales, and wetlands.
In 2020, NWF launched a second year for the program, with a greater emphasis on community awareness and engagement. In year 2, students conduct a vulnerability assessment of their school’s neighborhood, and develop leadership skills as they work with their community to draft resilience guidelines and design a nature-based solution to help mitigate neighborhood flooding. NWF culminated the year by working with our local partners to convene a Resilience in Schools Symposium in Houston, where students could showcase their resilience projects.
Launched in 2001, Earth Tomorrow is NWF’s longest-standing environmental justice education program. As a multi-cultural environmental-education and leadership-development program for high school students, Earth Tomorrow motivates underserved urban youth--particularly youth of color-- to develop lifelong habits of environmental stewardship using an environmental justice lens. Earth Tomorrow students are empowered to address issues such as food deserts, illegal waste dumping, climate change, lead exposure, and other environmental stressors that plague black and brown communities. The program cultivates a new generation of lifetime stewards through a year-long cycle of leadership training, issues exploration, civic engagement, career development, outdoor recreation, community service and project-based environmental education. Through these activities, youth are able to implement bold action to improve the health and welfare of their communities.
Over the last two decades there has been a 90% decline in the Eastern monarch butterfly population. Like many other pollinators, the monarch butterfly is imperiled by pesticides, the loss of native habitat, urbanization, and climate change. Conservation strategies and community engagement are crucial to ensuring the survival of this iconic species, known for its extraordinary 3,000-mile migratory journey from Canada to southern Mexico and back each year. NWF is working to engage communities and individuals to create and maintain monarch- and pollinator-friendly gardens, and contribute to the ongoing scientific research on the species.
The Monarch Stewards Certification Program is a series of three workshops that provides volunteers with the skills and knowledge needed for the conservation of monarchs and all pollinators. Throughout the program, volunteers learn to create native, pollinator-friendly habitats, to contribute to research on monarchs through citizen science, and to amplify pollinator conservation in their communities through outreach and educational presentations. Participants wishing to earn certification must complete all three workshops. To learn more about how to participate in the Monarch Stewards Program visit www.nwf.org/monarchstewards.
Since 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has worked to unite all Americans to ensure that wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world. The Federation’s Garden for Wildlife programs have mobilized millions of people nationwide to shift the landscape of American backyards, public spaces, institutions, and communities to support local wildlife and habitat and make environmental improvements.
Faith-based communities have participated in many of these programs previously, but NWF is bringing that engagement to scale with Sacred Grounds, a program that leverages the grassroots capacity of houses of worship to act as environmental and social-change agents, within the faith community and beyond.
The South Central Region of the National Wildlife Federation is mainly supported by grants and local supporters. We're grateful to have received a generous grant from the Gaynelle and Gene Rankin Endowment Trust of the San Antonio Area Foundation. This funding will allow us to expand the important education and outreach work we are doing to engage K-12 students and the San Antonio community in Monarch butterfly and pollinator conservation.
More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. The National Wildlife Federation is on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.