Dec. 19, 2013
By Tara Cavanaugh
Next month, the National Wildlife Federation is kicking off its Wildlife Nation program, which encourages teams of individuals to connect with nature in a variety of ways.
Bach Elementary is one of the NWF’s “founding teams” that will serve as a role model for other teams when Wildlife Nation kicks off in January.
So what kinds of activities will students be doing? “The school already has a habitat they’ve started to build outside, so they’ll be developing that as a habitat certified by the NWF,” said Julia Liljegren, a regional education manager for the federation. “They’ll also being doing other things, like planting trees.”
The idea is that Wildlife Nation is a community of its own, said Becky Lentz, NWF’s director of its Great Lakes programs and operations. “It’s on-the-ground activities and a social community through a social network online. It will go on as long as people are interested in it.”
To celebrate Bach Elementary’s designation as a founding team, the NWF brought in live animals that students can find in Southeast Michigan. Rob Mies from the Cranbook Institute of Science brought in four animals: a skunk, a flying squirrel, a bat and a barred owl.
Mies shared with students how to tell if a skunk is going to spray (although the skunk that he brought in was no longer able to spray), how a flying squirrel glides (but does not actually fly), how many insects a bat can eat a night (5,000) and how owls locate food (with their eyes –– they don’t have a sense of smell).
“At NWF we’re very concerned about making sure we have conservation stewards for the future,” Lentz said. “We’re making sure kids have some interaction directly with wildlife. It helps them have a connection later as an adult.”
The NWF has regional offices across the country. The Great Lakes Regional office, which serves Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota is located downtown on West Liberty.