April Featured Member: National Wildlife Federation
By: Suzanna Baum
In the words of Whitney, I believe that children are our future. As a concerned mother I am always trying to provide a healthy environment to grow in and opportunities to learn about the world around us. So I was excited to get a chance to catch up this month with Laura Hickey, Senior Director of Eco-Schools USA for NWF, and a member of the Environmental Paper Network Steering Committee. NWF’s work ensures that our children and grandchildren will know and appreciate the same wildlife we do today.
Suzanna: Briefly, who is NWF and how do you achieve your mission on a daily basis?
Laura: As America's largest conservation organization, National Wildlife Federation works with more than 4 million members, partners and supporters in communities across the country to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future. We do this in a variety of ways, but we have three main strategic priorities: reducing carbon pollution and combating global climate change; safeguarding
wildlife and habitat; and connecting people with nature. We have regional centers and grassroots connections across the entire country – working locally to help wildlife, protect, the environment, and engage communities. We have a dedicated, hardworking staff of about 350 employees in 10 locations around the fifty states, and we have state affiliates who help us to do our work.
Suzanna: Let’s move right to the tough one: I remember reading and loving Ranger Rick as youth. NWF has a lot of publications, and must use a lot of paper. So…..what’s in your paper?
Laura: I’m so glad to hear that you read and loved Ranger Rick! He’s been around for almost 40 years now and we often hear that many of today’s conservationists and environmentalists read that magazine as kids. NWF does use a lot of paper – but not nearly as much as we did five years ago. In 1991, we switched all of our magazines and office papers from virgin to recycled papers; we worked with Lyons Falls Pulp and Paper to make the first FSC-certified paper in the US, and we work with our mill, NewPage, to import TCF kraft pulp to use in our magazines and catalogs. Today, we use a 30% PCW, PCF, FSC-certified paper for all of our coated magazines, and 100% PCW, PCF paper for our office use. We have a robust paper policy at NWF that all staff follows, and I’m excited to say that we’ve just started a membership drive that is 100% paper free.
Suzanna: I understand you are involved in the internationally acclaimed Eco-Schools program. Can you tell me a little about it and NWF’s role?
Laura: NWF is the sole USA host of the international Eco-Schools program which was founded in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education in Copenhagen, Denmark. The international Eco-Schools program is endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme as a model for sustainable development, and it is now in 53 countries, reaching 41,000 K-12 schools, 900,000 teachers, and over 12 million students. Here in the US, we launched Eco-Schools USA (www.eco-schoolsusa.org) in late 2009, and we have over 900 schools registered. Eco-Schools follows a 7 step framework that is based on the ISO 14001 environmental management system process, and it is a holistic student-driven process that is designed to green the school buildings, the school grounds, the curriculum, and the student experience. There are levels of achievement that schools can reach with the Green Flag being the highest level of award. To date, we have 3 Green Flag Schools in the US, but we have several more that will achieve that before the end of this school year. They’re all great schools – and we love working with them and the students.
Suzanna: Why is it so important today to make the effort to give kids time outside?
Laura: Today’s children don’t spend very much time outdoors, unlike what it was like when I was a kid. The average outdoor time today is about 30 minutes each day – and that’s not enough. Kids that play outside regularly are healthier, more creative in their play, show better concentration, sleep better, and get along better with others. Importantly, kids won’t grow up to love nature if they don’t spend regular, quality time in it. That’s why NWF is embarking on a huge campaign right now to get 10 million more kids outdoors on a regular basis in the next three years.
Suzanna: How might the average Joe/Josephina get involved in your organization?
Laura: There’s lots of ways to engage with NWF – they can become members, they can donate their time and/or their money to our cause. We love volunteers, and they can sign up online here.
Suzanna: Why is NWF a member of EPN?
NWF is a member of the EPN because we believe wholeheartedly in the mission and cause of this organization. We support the Common Vision, and we love the opportunity to collaborate with fellow environmental NGOs to help to transform the pulp and paper industry into one that is much more sustainable and kinder to our Earth.
Thanks for getting to know National Wildlife Federation. Please keep an eye out in May for our next featured member, the Natural Resources Council of Maine.