David Mizejewski Defends National Wildlife Federation Partnership with Scotts Miracle Gro

David Mizejewski explains NWF decision to partner with Scotts Miracle Gro

Listen to interview with David Mizejewski while you read: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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: friends@nwf.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:

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.

© 2012, Carole Sevilla Brown. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Join the Wren Song Community

Wren Winter Singing crop

Free Exclusive Content and Member's Forum

Sign up for a free membership in the Wren Song Community and you'll have access to a lot more valuable information published exclusively for our members.

Meet other passionate wildlife gardeners from around the country. Share your successes. Learn from your failures. Discover the best resources to help you create welcoming habitat for wildlife in your gardens with native plants so that you will attract more birds, butterflies, native pollinators, and other wildlife to your garden.

Learn more about the Wren Song Community


  1. Kim M. says

    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

    Well, to me that sounds like “you’re too stupid to really understand this, so just shut up.” Not a good way to defend themselves. As far as I’m concerned, a wildlife foundation allying themselves with a company whose products kill wildlife would be better off not existing anymore. They can say that they don’t support all of Scott’s products, but the reality is that the people who will use those products will use this as a defense. It’s total greenwashing and it’s a really really bad idea. They’ve done permanent harm to their reputation, and their defenses just make it worse.

  2. says

    I agree with Kim completely. NWF is making a huge PR mistake by assuming they can just keep saying “it will all be okay” and “you just don’t understand”. Also upsetting to me is the notion that NWF thinks they will have an impact on SMG sustainability efforts. Really? They think that this corporation is going to change it’s entire business plan?

    My last take away is that NWF “hopes” this will result in the best outcomes for wildlife. Hopes? From a company with SMG’s reputation? Seems like a long shot to me.
    shira recently posted..say it isn’t so

  3. says

    Selling birdseed isn’t saving songbirds. Not destroying their habitat in favor of growing gmo corn is. And planting more native trees and shrubs, and gardens the draw in insects–the #1 source of food, especially for birds raising young needing protein. Baby birds don’t east seed. And how is that seed raised and harvested? Is it earth friendly? And isn’t part of the alliance also to get kids outside? Kids, with bare feet, on chemical-smothered landscapes? Chemicals proven to cause all sorts of nasty diseases and learning disabilities? Our kids are at risk of nature deficit disorder and adhd, but to overcome the latter they must get outside–and get lambasted with nasty junk. Come on NWF. Get real.

  4. Louise M. says

    Seed is a small component in Scott’s overall business plan. Their reputation is bad, and getting worse, and they needed a magic pill to make them LOOK like they were serious about improving the environment. And, NWF probably couldn’t resist the lure of all that money. If they spent more of their contributions on projects that would do more for the earth, and less of the flood of paper and “free” gifts that they send out almost daily, they would have more to spend on what really matters. I pulled my “Certified Wildlife Habitat” sign down last year because I don’t approve of the way that they waste money. So, maybe it’s the perfect marriage between two organizations out for money, and not caring how they go about getting it.

  5. says

    I wish David good luck with NWF endeavors but the lack of a clear message about this partnership from the beginning is a problem. The explanations still do not answer the big questions and I am insulted that NWF thinks my initial opinions are knee jerk…we are a lot more savvy than that and the company line is obviously not changing. A better way would have been for Scotts to promote the NWF programs without this partnership showing Scotts is making changes. How are they going to reach the 30 million Scotts customers about their programs…what are the incentives for them to stop using these chemicals that love so much…they haven’t so far…Scotts is going to allow NWF to tell their customers not to use Scotts chemicals?? That will never happen so how do they get the message to them?

    The message will be this…put out the Scotts birdseed and kill your weeds with our chemicals at the same time so unsuspecting birds will come to your garden and find pesticides, no insects and certainty no habitat…and the birds will probably be making your last visit to that garden or any garden…so how does that help songbirds David????

    Did he really say that there is no evidence that pesticide laden bird seed isn’t harmful so we can’t say it is…he is a naturalist???…not any more…he is a mouthpiece for a chemical company now…this is the same skewed logic politicians and corporations use about the myth of global warming…Really David??

    NWF is delusional about the American public…they clearly did not even know their base would create such an outcry. The bigger benefit is for Scotts, their shareholders and now NWF…not the earth, the wildlife, the people and the children. This is asking for forgiveness after the fact and it is the wrong way to do this…the principles of NWF are no longer mine and I am done with NWF. I will promote and align myself with other organizations and they will get my donations.

    I will be blogging about those organizations as an alternative for folks until NWF ceases this partnership.

  6. Denise Meehan says

    This is a copy of what I just sent to NWF:
    I am appalled at your decision to partner with Scott’s. Under no circumstances do I want my Certified Habitat information shared with them.
    Are you willing to contact all Habitat providers and give them the option to Opt Out ?

    And speaking of opting out, why do you send me endless premium options ?They are trashed immediately, a waste of my time and your money, that could presumably be put to the same ends this awful partnership is about.

    I use an IPad and it does not support the Adobe feature so I could not listen to the Audio Clip.

    I really hope they do not share my information with Scott’s. I did not Certify my Backyard with them!

    And frankly, nothing short of calling off this partnership will satisfy me. It is simply not compatible with my World view. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  7. says

    From corporatewatch.org: “1998 also saw Scotts branch out into GM technology, through the acquisition of 80% of Sanford Scientific Inc, “allowing researchers to create desirable varieties of plants with value-added traits far beyond the capabilities of conventional plant breeding techniques”.[7] Scotts also entered into a collaboration with the Monsanto company to “bring the benefits of biotechnology to the multi-billion dollar turfgrass and ornamental plants business.[8] Under the agreement, Scotts and Monsanto agreed to share technologies, including Monsanto’s extensive genetic library of plant traits and Scotts’ proprietary gene gun technology to produce ‘improved’ transgenic turfgrass and ornamental plants. Other acquisitions in 1998 included the US company EarthGro Inc. and the continental lawn and garden products company ASEF.

    Scotts relationship with Monsanto became even cosier in 1999, when Scotts completed agreements with the company for exclusive US, Canada, UK, France, Germany and Austria agency and marketing rights to its consumer Roundup herbicide products. Scotts also purchased the remainder of Monsanto’s lawn and garden business, which included the pesticide brand Ortho.
    2000 and beyond To pay homage to its guru (who retired from the company in 1997), in 2000 Scotts renamed its North American headquarters the Horace Hagedorn building. In the new millennium the Hagedorn family have continued to increase their firm grip over the company with Horace’s son James being appointed CEO of the company in 2001 and chairman of the board in 2003.[9]
    The turn of the century also saw the company continue its expansion into Europe through the acquisition of Substral, the leading consumer fertiliser brand in many European countries, including Germany, Austria, Belgium, France and Scandinavia. In 2000 Scotts also divested its North American Professional Turf business to The Andersons, Inc. and Nu-Gro Corporation, in order to focus its resources on more profitable markets.[10]

    In 2002, the company increased its investment in GM technology, by signing a research and commercialisation agreement with New Zealand’s Crop & Food Research that could lay the groundwork for the production of flowering ornamental plants ‘enhanced’ by biotechnology. The company announced that the research will initially focus on ‘improved’ geraniums, although these are unlikely to be available commercially for several years.[11]”

    So, NWF is in bed with Scotts, who is in bed with Monsanto, the most hated corporation on the planet – you know – the corporation responsible for Agent Orange, Roundup, GMO plants, suing organic farmers whose crops have been contaminated with GMOs, and responsible for hundreds of thousands of farmer suicides in India. Nice.

    • Sue Sweeney says

      LInda – thank for the good research; so the new Scott’s carbon-sink turf will definitively be GMO ..oh joy!

  8. j lorusso says

    The reasoning that they give for this action is certainly flawed and reeks of spin. Access to 30 million customers? so what, does NWF feel they will convert those customers to not using Miricle Gro and Roundup. That will not happen. Scots has made the calculations and they hooked NWF. I found it telling that there was no mention of this partnership on the NWF website, not the “in the news” not in the recent events, nowhere. They knew this was going to be unpalatable. I also agree with the previous poster that, nothing short of calling off this partnership will be satisfactory.

  9. Sue Sweeney says

    my impressions ( NWF and Scotts please read)

    Carole gets sainthood for keeping her temper and trying to see the NWF’s side of stuff even tho being repeatedly insulted. Please, NWF Spin Doctor guy, she is not that stupid.

    delusional, disingenuous, believing their own BS, I have to think that this whole media campaign was designed by Scotts and fed to NWF who bought it hook, line and sinker. The “repeat the big lie strategy” works well for Scotts and Fox News. I don’t think either Scotts or NWF understands NWF support base – it ain’t working here. With us, you can’t do one thing and say it is something else — we are not that stupid.

    we’re prejudgemental about Scotts? oh my! really? how could be that be? Poor Scotts is getting picked on. As we used to say of napalm – how many kids did you kill today? In this, I count the children of bugs and birds but, then, lymphoma is no treat either.

    The NWF doesn’t want to hear from us and they are not listening. Listening means openness to mind changing. They have no intention of changing their course no matter what we say. What David is saying is please just keep writing on the FB page so they can ignore it.

    I have now witnessed a half dozen NWF spokespeople right up to the CEO parroting blatant untruths and then saying with a straight face “we’re not being corrupted”. What do they think corruption is?

    Scotts has sold them a bill of goods if they think that Scotts is opening up their 30 million customers for NWF to talk the customers out of using Scotts’ chemicals.

    Walking away and letting them be corrupted is not the answer, because the door will be open to the other environmental organizations to do the same thing. We need to keep their feet to the fire. How do we get main stream media involved? Keep posting links of the existing blog reports on every blog you can think of; keep tweeting. Write your mother. Sooner or later, we’ll hit the jack pot. Netflix backed down, so did BoA and Verizon. Social media is powerful.

    Want to engage kids and get them outdoors, team up with John Deere, REI, and Cheerios – harder to mange more smaller relationship but the NWF could keep its integrity.

  10. mary anne kazlauskas says

    this is the same as the politicians. say one thing, get the public behind you, and then betray their trust.

    this morning i have called nwf and made a statement. the lines were not busy, but as the day goes on, i believe {hope } that will change. also i have left an e-mail at nwf. the comments above say it all. this is a blatent betrayal of trust.

  11. says

    I just heard the interview and am more convinced than ever that this is a very bad decision on the part of NWF. Nothing David said made me change my mind, on the contrary.
    Now, what I would really like to hear is what Scotts Miracle Gro has to say on this matter. What do they propose to do for the environment that is so worthwhile? Are they phasing out their toxic products? Are they showing any kind of commitment toward healthy environments? That would be the only justification for this partnership. Unfortunately, they would have to turn upside down all their goals and philosophy to do that. It is not going to happen.
    We have been giving the NWF hell, now let us start giving Scotts Miracle Gro some hell.

  12. says

    Nothing I have heard changes my mind. This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction. I have thought about it. And I have decided that I would rather NWF die completely through lack of funding than make people think what Scotts does is fine and dandy for the environment.

    I’m done with them. The only thing they can possibly do to change my mind is to renounce this partnership, and if they fail to do so, I am done with them in perpetuity, and will give my money to the Nature Conservancy instead.
    UrsulaV recently posted..Get Off Their Lawn!

  13. Julia Vanatta says

    I carefully crafted a response on Facebook yesterday about how many countries, including Canada, have banned the retail sale of several herbicides and pesticides because of their harm to our ecosystem AND to our human bodies. Ever since Canada’s Supreme court supported a community’s right right to prohibit these chemicals based on the Precautionary Principal, lobbyists have been promoting legislation across the US to prevent us from starting ANY similar movement. My post was removed. You can read a lot more and learn for yourself here:http://www.pesticidefreebc.org/, or watch the documentary “A Chemical Reaction: The Story of a True Green Revolution: http://pfzmedia.com/#/images/stories/screen/small/HomeDepot3.jpg. As for Carol’s interview with David, NWF has more than a PR problem, they seem to really believe that Scott’s wants to go green, when, in fact, Scotts wants to sell their products under the perception they have gone green already. With legislation now in place in most states in the U.S.A, we can no longer locally prohibit their products without gaining approval from the state. Is this what we want? Can we really trust Scotts to change their ways?

  14. says

    I’ve long since given up on NWF. They send me so much email, always with these heart rending tag lines, that it always ends up in my spam folder. Do they do anything but PR? I wouldn’t know, it seems the majority of their effort is bombarding everyone with advertising.

    As for Scotts and their parent company, let’s not forget that they make more than Miracle Grow, and the other stuff is very much not beneficial for wildlife.

  15. says

    Actually, I find that I have one more question, if David ever does come back…

    Is there any level of outrage that can cause the NWF to back out of this deal?

    Because if the NWF has decided that we’re all acceptable losses, I’m done with it. I’m perfectly willing to write off the NWF as greenwashing-for-hire in perpetuity. If there’s a slim chance that if we all get mad enough, NWF will go “Oh, geez, didn’t realize you were watching, sorry, we’ll be good now!” then I’ll keep trying to drag ‘em back from the brink…but if there isn’t, if they’re partnering no matter what, then I’ll move on and just tell people never trust anything with a NWF logo again.

    So my question, to which I would really like a yes or no answer, is “Is there any way that this partnership with Scotts will not go through?”
    UrsulaV recently posted..Get Off Their Lawn!

  16. says

    I have emailed NWF as follows:
    “Dear NWF,

    I am very surprised and disappointed by your recent partnership with Scotts Miracle Grow. I understand that non-profits need money to fulfill their mission and that many gardeners compromise on their gardening methods in order to maintain their landscape. I personally embrace gardeners who still use some chemical products. Changing gardeners minds and hearts toward wildlife gardening can be a slow and ongoing process. I thought that was the job of NWF.

    Here is how I feel about your partnership with Scotts. As far as I am concerned the purpose of non-profits is to support causes which are for the greater good and which are not, by definition, profitable. Are you telling me that NWF can no longer run its’ business without the support of for-profit corporations? For-profit corporations, such as Scotts, exist in order to make a profit. In order to make a profit they must sell their products. They are partnering with NWF in order to sell more products. How is that compatible with wildlife gardening and the wider mission of NWF?

    You have made a mistake NWF. Please revisit this decision. While you might believe I need you to make a decision for me on what is good and whether partnering with Scotts is for the greater good, you are wrong. I, am a wildlife gardener. I am educated and I don’t need you to decide what is right for me, my garden, and wildlife. Furthermore, you are not convincing me that this partnership makes sense in the guardianship of our planet and the quest to connect people and wildlife. While you are partnered with Scotts you do not have my support as a member and contributor.

    You need to revisit this decision, or risk losing the very people who support your mission.

    Regards, Alison Kerr”
    Alison Kerr | Loving Natures Gardens recently posted..How to fall in love with hummingbirds

  17. Virginia Goolsby says

    Nothing David said changed my mind. The only mission Scotts has is to sell more chemicals, and to have NWF team up with them is totally the wrong thing to do. Any message NWF has about organic and chemical free is going to go unheard when the only thing people see is the headline that NWF has partnered with Scotts. This partnership gives the impression of support for Scotts products. Does NWF not know about being guilty by association.
    I will not renew my grandchildren’s subscriptions to their magazines nor will I give them any other support unless they withdraw from this “money grubbing” partnership!

  18. says

    The interview was great. I think it was great because it clarified the skewed logic of the NWF in rationalizing what they’ve done. Here is what I heard: ‘NWF is CAPITALIZING on the partnership.” NWF is willing to lose some of its base in order to reach and change Scott’s clientele. NWF will change the way Scott’s thinks about thier products. This is nonsense. When the NWF releases just how much money they were paid, then, and only then, will the true motivation for this action be clear. Scott’s is in business for one reason only, and that is to make money. Apparently the NWF has been seduced by the same addiction.

  19. says

    Carole, outstanding interview which did not change my mind at all, if anything made me firmer in my belief that it is a bad choice. Questions for David:

    1. You stated that Scotts is trying to create products with “less negative impact on the environment”. Hasn’t NWF always advocated using products that have NO negative impact on the environment?

    2. So Scotts is going to allow NWF to tell people NOT to use their products on their wildlife habitats? until such time as they get their products to meet your former standards?

    3. Do you honestly believe that Scotts doesn’t already know what is required of them to achieve sustainability without NWF input? They are a HUGE corporation who has the wherewithal to hire the best in the business.

    4. Regarding the Save the songbirds program and scotts birdseed, songbirds need insects to rear their young. Birdseed is not eaten by fledglings. Doesn’t Scotts make chemicals that kill insects? Doesn’t the pesticide they produce that is use by millions of people to maintain “pest free” environments negate the good they will do from donating to restore some habitat?

    5. According to BBB NWF received contributions from individuals estimated at $48,129,000 while Contributions from governments, foundations and corporations is shown as $16,436,000. That’s about 3 to one. You are alienating a lot of current contributors. Doesn’t this worry you?

    You have three primary areas you focus on: wildlife, global warming and connecting people with nature. It seems to me that while this alliance works to achieve the one goal, the benefit is clearly negated by the wildlife that will be harmed in the process through the brand being associated with NWF and therefore ok to use all products. I’m sure at this stage that NWF has no plans to do away with the Scotts association. Perhaps will even using our concerns to get your “ducks in a row” while the initiative is still young, although if everyone uses miracle gro thinking it will be good for a garden for birds, I’m betting those ducks will die from the water contamination. :O

    NWF is crossed of my list of worthwhile charities. I’m advocating contributions to local environmental groups where you can see the benefit in your own community. Sometimes huge organizational advocacy gets too big and goes rogue.
    Loret recently posted..Wildlife Charity Contributions -–Act Local

  20. says

    I want to add that we need to help educate people about the dangers of all these chemicals. Besides just being BAD, perhaps an education into what specific effects diff toxins have and who is at risk, etc.

  21. says

    The headline I might have accepted would have been: “NWF Hired to Guide Revamping of Scotts Product Line.” And the article would have explained that Scotts has agreed with the NWF to phase out production and sales of all chemical-based and GMO products for the consumer market over the next three years. Heck, I’d even have accepted a five year plan.

    If this relationship was truly about a reformed Scotts… or about truly reforming Scotts, even relatively untalented marketing professionals would have LED with that information. If anything is going to get NWF’s supporters on its feet cheering, it’s hearing that they have gotten Scotts to see the light. When you have to “issue statements” after the fact, you either aren’t doing what you want the world to believe, or it’s time to fire your marketing staff and hire people who know how to find out what your supporters think they’re supporting.

  22. says

    Another question for David:

    This is the ingredients list for Scotts® Songbird Selections® NutriThrive™:

    Sunflower, Millet, Canary Seed, Peanuts, Safflower, Grain Products, Calcium Carbonate, Processed Grain Byproducts, Canola Oil, Plant Protein Products, Paprika (for coloring), Salt, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Phosphate, DL-Methionine, Manganese Oxide, TBHQ (to preserve freshness), Zinc Oxide, a-Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E), Riboflavin, Calcium Panthothenate, Copper Chloride, Biotin, Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)

    I’m not clear on why birds would require salt and While I’m sure that the ratio of the various chemicals is kept at a certain level, what benefit do they provide to birds? and for that matter, why do the birds need coloring in the form of paprika in their food?

    I’m not a scientist or chemist, but I can read.

    A Material Safety Data Sheet I found at Sciencelab.com, Inc. indicates in part:

    Vitamin A Acetate: Section 11: Toxicological Information
    Routes of Entry: Inhalation. Ingestion.
    Toxicity to Animals: Acute oral toxicity (LD50): 2740 mg/kg [Rat].
    Chronic Effects on Humans: May cause damage to the following organs: blood, liver.
    Other Toxic Effects on Humans: Slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation

    Aren’t Calcium Panthothenate and Copper Chloride contact irritants as well?

    How does the “Save the songbirds”?
    Loret recently posted..Wildlife Charity Contributions -–Act Local

  23. says

    Awesome interview! Carole, thanks for keeping an open mind and wanting to get the story. David, thanks for sharing your perspective on the partnership and for being willing to sit in the hot seat, so to speak.

    My post-interview thoughts:

    1) David mentioned 50,000,000 gardeners and 150,000 certified habitats. It’s important to remember that the non-certified group isn’t necessarily using Roundup. I don’t have a certified habitat but I still don’t want chemicals.

    2) No one questions the value of the initiative — getting kids outside and interested in nature is in all of our interest. In fact, your initiative reminds me of the NFL and its Play60 campaign. The bottom line in this controversy is that the National Wildlife Federation picked the wrong partner. If you had announced a new partnership with the NFL, there would be zero controversy.

    3) The value of this partnership to Scotts is obvious. In fact, I think it is a brilliant business move on their part.

    4) The real value of this partnership to National Wildlife Federation still perplexes me. For what it’s worth, I think it’s a horrible business decision. Good, bad, or indifferent, a whole lot of people, and not just the 150,000 people with a certified habitat, now view the National Wildlife Federation as a division of Scotts. That is a very large PR issue. I get the part about being able to reach new people. You could reach new people by partnering with way better partners (like the example I used of the NFL earlier).

    5) I’m not saying the National Wildlife Federation shouldn’t work with Scotts. In fact, I think it’s great that the National Wildlife Federation is doing some consulting work for Scotts. Consulting is one thing; Partnering is a whole different beast.

    6) This isn’t a messaging problem; it is a values problem. No amount of marketing can fix a partnership that contradicts a company’s longstanding values.
    – The Nature Conservancy would have a similar controversy if it partnered with EXXON.
    – Apple would have a similar controversy if it ditched their operating system in favor of one from Microsoft.
    – Clif Bar would have a similar controversy if it partnered with Monsanto.
    – Mothers Against Drunk Driving would have a similar controversy if it partnered with Budweiser.

    I won’t be actively supporting the National Wildlife Federation going forward but I do wish it great success in this partnership. Planet Earth needs successes.

    Just sharing my thoughts.

  24. says

    “Knee jerk”? That’s an enlightening response. If it makes NWF feel better by presuming that none of us are capable of critical thinking, logic, or reasoning, I can’t change that. NWF, however, is clearly making some presumptions of their own in regards to who their supporters are. Insulting NWF supporters, as a means of justifying this partnership is only going to dig NWF into a deeper PR hole than they’re already in. It’s clear the root of partnership is economic, and all about access to the great American dollar for the NWF, and about Scotts acquiring some extra ‘green PR’ in exchange. As such, I feel the NWF is allowing themselves to be exploited for the sake of a few dollars by Scotts, who stands to gain much more from this partnership, and as far as I’m concerned NWF has lost all credibility for moving forward. Sadly, I expect the contracts are signed, and anything previous NWF supporters say will simply fall on deaf ears.

    “NWF is not endorsing ALL of Scotts products”. Are you joking? NWF can’t pick and choose which of Scotts products to endorse. By “partnering” with the Scotts company, the message that is clearly sent to the consumer is that NWF supports Scotts, not just their sustainable product lines. What, are you going to put disclaimers on bags of ‘weed and feed’?
    Curbstone Valley Farm recently posted..Seeds 2012

  25. says

    If David M. and NWF trully want to help the song birds, they would do well to start a campaign against the heavy use of pesticides, and the companies that make them. The heavy use of pesticides is killing our pollinators and without them, those song birds he’s so worried about won’t have insects to feed their young, or berries and seeds to eat (not to mention, we won’t have vegitables, fruit, seeds or grains either.) I have lost my respect and trust for NWF, and I will not be renewing my membership.
    Damon Morris recently posted..David Mizejewski Defends National Wildlife Federation Partnership with Scotts Miracle Gro

  26. says

    THANK YOU Carole for and excellent and informative post. I think Scott’s should be ashamed to take advantage of NWF just to spin a dollar more out of unaware and uneducated customers. We sometimes get resistance with our landscaping clients when we work to educate them about organic gardening. We do win them over with facts……like in truth healthy soil is the key to healthy plants (and lawns) and chemical fertilizers do not lead to healthy soil. And we talk to the bottom line. Going organic will make your garden MORE beautiful and save you water as your soil gets healthy and your plants get deeper roots. THANK YOU again…..for all your hard work and daily information!

  27. says

    I expect David is totally sincere. I expect he is tired of just preaching to the choir and wants to make a difference in the lives of all the people in the Scott’s camp, which is a lot of people. I expect he wants to shift their views and open their eyes and get their kids outside and benefit nature. I expect he feels that he’s opening up Scott’s to some input from the enlightened side. I expect people at NWF seriously argued themselves into the ground over this. And there is all that money, which they can use to broadcast their message more widely. I expect Scott’s may have had different discussions in their boardrooms, just like Chevron in theirs, regarding their environmental greenwash projects. I expect NWF has in fact lost its base, and maybe they calculated the cost/benefit ratio of doing that. We’ll take down our signs, and others will put them up. On their lawns. As they say, there is no bad publicity – the discussions we in the choir are having, the loud chorus of protest – it’s all good in terms of the larger cause. And that also probably played into the NWF calculations. So I don’t know. I’m not in favor of dumping chemicals on mother nature of course. But I do see the thick layers of insulation between different opinion and thought groups in today’s media. Some people have a Fox News reality, some are Huffington Posters, and it’s hard to bridge the gap and create cross communication – that insularity is promoted by the internet (we find what we search for) and it is a very bad thing. I hope NWF does punch through to get kids off their sofas, off their lawns, and into the wilds. As we fire arrows at their ships, sailing off towards these enemy shores I think I actually do wish them well in their changed mission, though I am almost afraid to say so in this unanimously oppositional space. Politics is about compromise, that’s what I learned in American political science 101. NWF is a political group. We also need a choir, and I’m happy to be part of it. Life is a lot simpler in the choir. But I’d also like someone to reach certain folk in my orbit that are beyond my reach. Maybe then they’ll be able to hear my song. I’m just not as sure as the rest of you on this, based on what I heard in the interview anyway.

  28. says

    My thoughts:

    1) In the interview David speaks of “finding common ground” with Scotts, and “having a seat at the table.” This in itself is laudable. There is a political problem in the U.S. right now of people being so divided that they will not compromise, or even talk with each other (look at our House of Representatives)– thus there is never constructive dialogue.

    2) But. . .I don’t understand how they will negotiate the tension between a) being supported by a manufacturer of poison and b) reaching out to get people to make viable habitats for wildlife (which to me means non-poisoned habitats). David speaks of Scotts’ willingness to make “better chemicals” that are “organic.” Anything that kills invertebrates is a poison, organic or not. Using the term “organic” here is Orwellian doublespeak. If it means killing native invertebrates, it is hurtful to individual critters and to ecosystems.

    3) The repeated phrase “getting children outside” is another sort of doublespeak. . . It’s a disingenuous call to “do it for the sake of the children.” Do what? The paradoxical task of creating wildlife habitat with toxic chemicals?

    My overall impression is that the “unenlightened” petunia-and-rose growing crowd are going to get a giant mixed message from this partnership. It may make people think that “just a little pesticides” is just fine.

    P.S. Reading these comments reminds me of the sound of a disturbed nest of bees. Generally I think staying emotionally neutral is beneficial in dealing with conflict. . .in this case, I say to the swarm: increase the buzz!

  29. says

    Serious question. How could NWF possibly walk away from this deal at this point? Am sure contracts have been signed and agreement is done If not, I think NWF best take a realistic look at the headaches ahead.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge