Should the Sign Come Down?

I have proudly had a "Certified Wildlife Habitat" logo on my Gardening for Nature blog for several years. Now what should I do with it? What does it mean now?

Sometimes organizations make decisions that are simply too far out there to understand. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) just made one of those decisions. The NWF has decided to partner with the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. That’s right, the non-profit organization whose logo is “Wildlife Promise” and has a mission statement of “Inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future” has decided to take millions of dollars from the company that’s known throughout the United States for how its fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides keep American lawns green, perfect, weed and insect free. I mean, really? How does this partnership help the NWF keep the promise of “PROTECT and RESTORE WILDLIFE HABITAT: We defend America’s safeguards and safe-havens for wildlife.”

The news of this partnership between NWF and Scotts brought out many emotions in me: disappointment, sadness, disbelief, and an overwhelming feeling of being let down and betrayed. I learned something I thought would never happen:  that a nature focused organization I have admired, even recommended to others, sold out their values and mission for money. They decided to let down hundreds of thousands of supporters to gain “a wider audience”. What about the wildlife? Will they grow smaller and smaller in numbers as the “wider audience” puts more and more chemicals into their wildlife habitats now that NWF deems Scotts and their products are worthy of being part of “Protecting Wildlife”?

I thought that the “Certified Wildlife Habitat” meant something special. It meant that we were promising not to use pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizers in our backyards in order to provide a place for wildlife to live, grow and thrive. With this partnership, it will no longer mean that to me. NWF, how could you?

[What questions would you ask NWF about this partnership? Please post them here for an interview with NWF taking place later this afternoon.]

If you would like to add your comments to a growing protest on this partnership, please visit the following NWF sites:

Website: National Wildlife Federation




You can also join in the conversations on this subject at:

On the Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens website:

On Garden Rant:

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  1. says

    It was a difficult decision but the sign has come down and the sign on my blog is gone too. I have wanted to add other pledges such as Audubon’s At Home Pledge so I will be promoting that on my blog and my BWG post next week. No amount of explanation can condone this partnership and betrayal.

  2. says

    I have one of those Wildlife Habitat signs, too….but, not long after I joined the NWF, I got VERY ANNOYED at all the PAPER CRAP they were sending me–envelopes, notecards, calendars and so I complained! I asked: Are donations used to help the animals or cut down trees?

    They responded to me that they use the money to “raise awareness” of the wildlife. So…I stopped sending them donations to pay for printing materials and salaries of their staff.

    Instead, my husband and I are volunteers at the local Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina where ALL THE MONEY and our computer programming efforts support conservation, education and non-invasive research of the highly endangered lemurs… and their highly endangered habitat in Madagascar.


  3. Anita Duvall says

    I’m shocked, deeply disappointed and really pissed off at this horrible decision! As we feel our rights being taken away, while corporations are literally working to gain legal controls over our lives, how can NWF justify betraying your supporters, but most of all the wildlife that is losing more and more every day?!?!

  4. says

    Keep it on the page, just put a big red “X” through the sign, Kathy ;)

    The start of the press release reads:

    “National Wildlife Federation and ScottsMiracle-Gro Create Partnership
    Inspiring More Americans to Spend Time Outdoors”

    Perhaps they should add “in order for doctors everywhere to gain new clients with the adverse health results from living with chemicals and fertilizers”.

    NWF always seems just to “big” for me, which is mainly why I didn’t certify my yard. I mean, I know my yard meets the standards and that was good enough for me. I think it is time for everyone who DID certify their yards with NWF to mail BACK the signs.
    Loret recently posted..Making a Comeback

  5. says

    As a child of the 60s and 70s, protesting in is my blood. This is so incredibly unfortunate because anyone who has read Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods” knows how critical it is that we get our youth reconnected to the natural world. NWF, however, must be held accountable for their choices (with papering the world with promotions as well as greenwashing). In politics, I find it hard to stomach one-issue voters who doom a candidate based on a single issue. However, in this case, I think NWF needs to hear, loud and clear, that they are accountable to their membership and to the world in general. Scotts may not be the devil incarnate–they are filling a desire for perfection that is clearly lucrative because of the population that wants their environment to look like a PGA golf course. Taking the sign down (or leaving it up with an “X” (then take a photo and share it with all your social media friends AND NWF) may be the only way to get their attention and make a statement.

  6. Sue Sweeney says

    We need to stand together on this one to prevent the chemical companies from corrupting the pro-environment and pro-wildlife life organisations on which we depend for a national and international voice.

    Together, our voices can make a difference. So please, don’t just post comments here – go tell the NWF how you feel and ask your friends to help.

  7. Tia Scarce says

    I live and volunteer in a NWF-certified community. We immediately asked how to understand and explain this partnership and got this from the VP of Education at NWF:

    “We really do understand your concerns and wanted to convey some our thinking around working with Scotts.

    We spent a great deal of time deliberating on the decision (over a year and over a hundred meetings and/or visits) and looked hard at Scotts overall performance. We found a number of things that gave us more confidence this could be a productive relationship for wildlife, habitat gardening, environmental education and the environment.

    In exploring the concern we had over water quality, we found that Scotts had already made commitments to cut phosphates in half in such major watersheds as the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes. Since our early inquiries, Scotts has made a further commitment to eliminate phosphates over the next three to five years.

    We also found that Scotts had a serious commitment to improving songbird viability in developing and going to market with new formulations of bird seed mixes. Scotts is one of the largest bird seed companies in the U.S. and they have been testing and improving the nutritional impact of this seed including new regional formulations.

    We also learned about their efforts to develop new alternatives to chemical pesticides – these are just a fraction of what is now sold but we have found the people at the Company very active in exploring new, more organically based, product lines. They have consistently been open to our questions, suggestions and recommendations.

    In general, we looked at Scotts as a company that is on a solid track toward sustainability and not interested or inclined toward green-washing. They reach 30 million homeowners across America and we concluded that working actively with them will facilitate continuously improved environmental performance, more environmentally friendly products on their part and help to shift the national gardening paradigm toward wildlife conservation.

    Just wanted to let you how we were thinking about this and welcome your reactions and questions. Happy to talk by phone or email.”

  8. says

    NO. NO . NO. Do not take the signs down! Put up more. Put up hundreds more. Thousands more.
    Dig up all the lawns and replace them with natural grasses, flowers, shrubs. Bring back the bugs, bees, butterflies, humingbirds. Get rid of all the lawns. Manicured lawns are one of the stupidest creations of man. Remove the lawns. Remove the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. No more lawns- no more chemicals. Sounds simplistic, but it is not. I have owned two homes in the past 20 years and the first thing I did when I moved in was to remove the lawns. No more grass. I never put chemicals on the lawns anyway. But by removing the lawns I developed a habitat, alive with creatures that thrived and survived.

    That is the solution. A massive campaign to eliminate grass, which will eliminate lawns, which will elimnate the need to inject poision into our environment. No more demand for poison, no more manufacturing poison.

    Manicured grass lawns are stupid. Let us not be stupid and continue creating manicured lawns.
    No more lawns!

    • says

      No more lawns! No more 2-3 times per week mowing. No more noise. No more dead zone. No more polluted water and soil. YES. DIE GRASS DIE! Lawn was part of the middle class dream of aristocracy, the lavish and opulent manicured expanses of rich English and French nobles. The democratic park of linked lawn in suburbia is a myth. We have no democracy. We have fences and corrupt officials, and now corrupt advocates for sustainability and nature.

  9. Lisa Roemer says

    Another bone headed move made by the clueless for pecuniary gain, or a good way to finance NWF’s commitment to the flora and fauna of the world? I guess the “commitments” mentioned above in Tia Scarce’s post above can only be proven by the doing. Thanks, Tia, for sharing that information. Let’s hope all the promises and claims pan out to be true, but please pardon my (well earned) cynicism. Money is god after all…but I will say if this is the same company that now makes tubeless toilet paper, maybe there’s hope for them yet.

  10. Erica says

    I am not surprised this being America’s most conservative conservation group. I have been at odds with them before. I think I am going to cut the bottom of the sign off. The part with the NWF logo etc. I was never too proud of that anyway. That is my solution.

  11. says

    Hi there – I work at National Wildlife Federation and wanted to thank you all for your feedback. We are taking every comment to heart because we know you all are so super passionate about gardening for wildlife and protecting habitat. We are too! I wanted to give you a heads up that tomorrow morning, our CEO, Larry Schweiger, will be doing a live video conference to answer questions you have on the partnership and hopefully help give some insight on why we chose to enter the partnership. It was definitely not something we entered into lightly and wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t think wildlife would benefit more in the end. We’ll send out more details via Facebook as we know about them (and also post the recording after the fact). Thank you.

  12. says

    There is only one word left, and I will say it. GREENWASHING.

    This is union perfect example of how doublespeak has become commonspeak in American today. Companies like Scotts are running for our cover; they realize that environmental awareness is slowing gaining ground and they want to hide behind the bona fide of organizations like NWF.

    And developing a better birdseed??!! Come on. You (NWF) can’t be serious. There are actually very few places where provided seed is truly beneficial to the bird population in the first place.

    Add my name to the list of the truly disgusted.

  13. Carlton L Langford says

    My yard, front and back, has long qualified for NWF status. Just never bothered with the certification. Now I won’t. HOW COULD THEY?!!

  14. Donna says

    While I hate the idea of NWF taking money from Miracle-Gro, I still trust NWF to make the same sorts of decisions as they have in the past. I know that they are having financial difficulties – they had to cut back on the number of issues they are printing of their children’s magazines. Since we need to get kids interested in nature, I’d prefer them to get money where ever they can and still produce the magazines.

  15. says

    I, too, was so proud to have my backyard certified and then … the junk mail began to arrive in heaps and heaps. I still think to this day, the money spent on sending me (and who else?) these cheap junk mail offers would have been so much better spent on the wildlife this organization is said to protect. Oh, and I’m still receiving it though not quite as often. That was my clue. Now this partnership? I keep my sign posted. It generates interest. I do however, warn of the junk mail onslaught which is enough to turn people off from the NWF but not from learning more about creating a habitat. I recommend supporting Wild Ones instead.

  16. says

    I just want to thank everyone who posted comments, liked, tweeted, +1ed, wrote their own posts, left feedback for NWF or in any other way helped to get the word out about how bad this partnership is for our environment. We really can make a difference if we all band together on this, and hopefully people will see NWF for the non-wildlife friendly organization that it really has become.

  17. Michel says

    According to the NWF website, ” National Wildlife Federation has ended its relationship with ScottsMiracle-Gro.”


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