"Oh, beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesty above the fruited plain" The song America the Beautiful was written by Katherine Lee Bates in 1893. She was inspired by the beauty of America while standing on Pike's Peak in Colorado.
Today many are still awed by the breath taking beauty of America and are inspired to work to preserve the health of the land. There are many national, state and local groups that work to protect the environment and conserve resources. This article will high light national organizations as well as let you know how you can be involved locally.
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY:
Their mission: The mission of The Nature Conservancy is "to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive."(www.nature.org)
Their history: The Nature Conservancy was started by a group of professional ecologist and was incorporated in 1951 in the Washington, D.C. Four years later The Nature Conservancy purchased 60 acres of land in New York to keep under its' protection and they continue to use the strategy of protection through land purchase. Working in all 50 states and 22 other countries, The Nature Conservancy has protected over 15 million acres in the United States alone and another 102 million acres worldwide.
How you can be involved: This non-profit group would welcome your donations, membership or fund-raising gift purchases from their website at www.nature.org.
In addition to financial support, The Nature Conservancy makes it easy for you to be a hands on volunteer in area near you. Simply go to their website and click on "volunteer" and choose your state. Dates will be listed for volunteer dates, times and locations. Examples include pulling weeds around newly planted sampling trees, removing invasive cattails from tributaries or river clean up days.
THE AUDOBON SOCIETY:
Their mission: The mission of the Audubon Society is to "conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity." (www.audobon.org) The work of the Audubon Society improves habitats and that benefits not just birds but also all other wildlife and YOU!
Their history: The Audubon Society is over one hundred years old. It was started by a group of men and women who joined together to save the Great Egret, whose silhouette is featured in the Audubon Societies logo. Today one of the organizations' great conservation projects is Audubon Societies' Important Bird Areas Program. It identifies sites, or IBAs that are essential habitat for one or more species, whether for breeding, wintering or migrating birds. Once identification has been made programs are implemented according to what is needed. For example, in Virginia 200 local volunteers organized at the James River Wetlands to restore degraded habitat by removing invasive grasses and planting 3,500 native trees. This IBA is an important habitat for the Bald Eagle and Prothonotary Warbler. Over 2,000 IBAs have been identified in 41 states.
How you can be involved: The Audubon Society would welcome your donations or your membership in a local chapter. Visit their website at www.audobon.org to find one near you. There you can also find out how to volunteer in an IBA project near you. The project above wouldn't have been successful without the time and efforts of many volunteers.
Taking the "Healthy Bird Pledge" at the website is an easy but important way to help right in your own back yard. Could you pledge to the best of your ability to: reduce pesticide use? conserve water? protect water quality? remove invasive exotic plants? plant native species? support birds and other wildlife on your property? Then you should go to the website and take the "Healthy Bird Pledge." It's that simple but this allows researchers to compare people's conservation efforts in an area with bird activity and measure results of efforts. What an easy way to let your good practices contribute to important research.
"Audubon Take Action" is another easy way to educate yourself and take action. The web sites covers legislative issues that affect wildlife and gives you an opportunity to join others in offering your support or opposition to legislation important to you.
THE NATIONAL ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION:
Their mission: The mission of The National Arbor Day Foundation is to "inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees." (www.arborday.org)
Their history: Founded in Nebraska, in 1872, by J. Sterling Morton, this foundation celebrates National Arbor Day each year on the last Friday in April. Morton and his wife, who were both nature lovers, moved to the then treeless plains of Nebraska from Chicago and began planting trees and shrubs. As a journalist and newspaper editor, Morton was able to influence others to join him. Arbor Day, a tree-planting holiday has grown exponentially and last year members planted over 8.5 million trees!
How you can be involved: Membership is The National Arbor Day is only $10.00 for six months or $15.00 for a year. As a gift, you can receive 10 free trees that will thrive in our area. They will be shipped to you and all you have to do is plant them. The website, www.arborday.org, offers this inspiring quote- "Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets. To plant a pine, one need only own a shovel." -Aldo Leopold Your family or organization can also visit the website to find out how to volunteer to join efforts in tree planting at a site near you.
With your memberships or your donations, whether of money or time, you can be part of one of many teams to keep America, America the Beautiful.