Listen to interview with David Mizejewski while you read:
Like so many others, I was stunned when I learned that the National Wildlife Federation had decided to team up with Scotts Miracle Gro in what they describe as a mutually beneficial relationship.
Personally I find nothing at all beneficial about this, and I have a suspicion that NWF may have done irreparable harm to their reputation and credibility.
I am well aware of the lure of partnering with Scotts. A while back our team here at Beautiful Wildlife Garden was offered the opportunity to partner with Scotts to promote their new line of bird seed. The conversation went something like this
“This is a great opportunity to make some money for each of us.”
“Do you know that Scotts is the maker of Miracle Gro?”
“No, but this is bird seed, and we are all about wildlife gardens.”
“But it still has Scotts name on it.”
“But what is the harm?”
“Because we will lose any credibility we have by letting people assume that we approve of this company.”
And thus in an almost unanimous decision, we as a team decided that there was no way we wanted anything to do with this company, that we could not justify the appearance that we were putting our stamp of approval on a company whose products are well known for causing harm to our environment.
This credibility issue is now becoming a PR nightmare for the National Wildlife Federation as many people express their sense of betrayal that they made this seemingly indefensible choice.
I happened to see a tweet that had the title “National Wildlife Federation teams up with Scotts Miracle Gro” and I assumed that had to be some kind of mistake. But when I clicked the link contained in that message I found to my dismay that what I was seeing was the press release issued by Scotts proudly announcing this marriage.
I thought of course Scotts is proud, they get to clean up their very tarnished environmental image through the magic of greenwashing by getting the stamp of approval from one of the most well-known and respected wildlife conservation organizations in the country.
But how can NWF possibly think they’re going to get anything beneficial from this deal with the devil? Don’t they know this is going to make a LOT of their supporters of many years upset and leave them feeling betrayed?
So I wrote about it. I was confused and sad and really wanted to know WHY? What did NWF, whose mission is to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats think they could gain from hooking up with a company who makes chemicals that kill wildlife?
Well, I don’t think that NWF was prepared for, nor did I expect, the firestorm that would ensue from that post. It went up at 6:30 pm last night. By midnight it had been reshared on Facebook 147 times. NWF’s Facebook page was filled with screen after screen of angry, disappointed, or feeling betrayed comments. Twitter was abuzz. And everyone had the same question: WHY?
Imagine my surprise when David Mizejewski, a naturalist for NWF and author of National Wildlife Federation Attracting Birds, Butterflies & Backyard Wildlife, left a comment at that post trying to explain why they thought this would be a positive outcome for them.
I read his comment several times, but still couldn’t understand how the harm to their reputation was going to be outweighed by any benefit of this association, and I told him so at another comment he left on my Facebook page. I asked him if he’d be willing to be interviewed so that he could help me understand. And he accepted.
I wrote another post and asked people to post the questions they’d like to ask about the NWF/Scotts teamup, and received quite a few thoughtful (and a few sarcastic or angry, and some laugh out loud funny) responses. Thanks for your input!
I’m sure you have many questions and doubts too, so for your listening pleasure here is that interview:
Please listen closely because David and the National Wildlife Federation are very eager for us to understand why they think this will be a beneficial arrangement
The important things that NWF wants us to know:
- Both NWF and Scotts share the goal of getting people to spend more time outdoors
- NWF intends to help Scotts produce “more sustainable” products; NWF sees this as an opportunity
- NWF is not endorsing ALL of Scotts products (emphasis mine)
- NWF wants to reach more people to create wildlife habitat, and Scotts has 30 million customers
- The Save The Songbird Campaign will be a “gateway” to reach those 30 million customers
- This is a partnership that they hope will result in the best outcomes for wildlife
- Obviously a partnership like this comes with the potential for some people to be upset about it, but they think their bigger benefit is going to come from working with Scotts
- The reason that people are upset is that there has been prejudgement about Scotts and we are having a knee jerk reaction when we don’t really know what this is truly about
- NWF is very interested in hearing our concerns
Now I see several obvious flaws in their reasoning, the biggest of which may just be “Obviously a partnership like this comes with the potential for some people to be upset about it, but our bigger benefit it going to come from working with Scotts.”
This seems to mean that they think that I, and probably most of the other 150,000 people who have certified our habitat gardens, and many of their long time supporters are acceptable losses in their quest to have access to those 30 million Scotts customers.
The flaw in this argument, as they may have discovered last night when I first wrote about this, is that I, and the team here at Beautiful Wildlife Garden, and my other team at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens, and the many, many other (maybe former) supporters have blogs and websites where we share our passion for creating welcoming habitat for wildlife in our gardens. And we will not be silent.
And yes, I am aware that I am just one small voice, but when my voice is added to the voices of others who are already writing about how they feel betrayed by NWF and expressing their anger, our combined voices can become much larger.
With the events of the past few days in mind, I think that NWF has a very serious PR problem on their hands. I also think they have a messaging problem. All of their attempts to explain this are lost in the simple statement that the team here easily recognized when we turned down the opportunity to align with the same company they have now partnered with:
“But it still has Scotts name on it. We will lose any credibility we have by letting people assume that we approve of this company.”
Since the NWF has stated that they are very interested in hearing from us, here is how to speak your mind:
- Post your thoughts on NWF’s facebook page (make sure you click the tab that says “Everyone” under the photo bar)
- Tweet your message to NWF on twitter, including @NWF in your message
- Call NWF: 1-800-822-9919 ; M-F 8 a.m to 8 p.m. EST
- Leave a comment on their webiste
Also, I have been informed from another NWF spokesperson that the CEO of NWF, Larry Schweiger is going to have a live video chat this afternoon to address some of these concerns. Please email your questions/concerns to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aside from the obvious flaw I mentioned already, what do you think about David’s explanation? Please leave your comments below. David will be traveling today and tomorrow, but he very much would like to respond to your comments and will be stopping by here as he can.
Read more about NWF partnership with Scotts:
- National Wildlife Federation Teams Up With Scotts Miracle Gro?
- Should the Sign Come Down?
- NWF and Miracle Gro: Perfect Together?
- NWF and Scotts Miracle Gro? NO!!!
- WWRRD? What Would Ranger Rick Do?
- National Wildlife Federation and Scotts: We’ve Seen This Story Before
- Upset With NWF? Go Local!!
- Scotts and NWF Toxic Partnership
- Severing Ties with NWF
- NWF in Garden Bed With Scotts
- Seriously, NWF?
- Miracle Gro Deal With Wildlife Federation Outrages Environmental Community
- Scotts Miracle Gro and NWF Partner to Get Kids Outside
- Scotts Miracle Gro and NWF have partnered up
Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.
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