The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and expanding the nation’s public lands for recreation or as preserves for wildlife habitat for future generations to use and enjoy.

Since 1936, NWF has led the initiative to educate the public about our nation’s public lands. They also function as an advocacy organization.

With three strategic priorities going forward, their mission is:

  1. The protection of wildlife. They will accomplish this by expanding plans for conservation-type landscapes using the best available science; cleaning and restoring our nation’s waterways; and improving habitat for wildlife including backyard habitats.

Visit www.nwf.org for details on how to establish your own Certified Wildlife Habitat in your backyard.

  1. Connecting Americans with nature: If, as a country, we are going to conserve, protect and preserve for future generations, it will take a great many people participating in this mission.

The NWF has plans for educating and inspiring youth about our natural world and promoting recreation for all by ensuring that we have access to public lands for responsible outdoor recreation.

3) Rebuilding America’s conservation movement: The philosophy is that conservation should be an inclusive effort bringing together families, individuals, 4-H Clubs, hunters, anglers, birdwatchers, gardeners, church groups and school groups.

The combined energy and love of the outdoors of so many people will help to accelerate the advancement of the conservation movement.

The South Carolina Wildlife Federation is our state’s NWF affiliate. Consider joining SCWF or the NWF at the national level, where membership is only $15 annually (tax deductible).

Their annual photo contest, with seven categories and up to 10 photos allowed for a small fee, is fun for members, who compete for great cash prizes and a chance to see their wildlife photos published.

Nearby spots to see some Lowcountry wildlife include Savannah National Wildlife Refuge (more than half of which is actually located in South Carolina).

My favorite place is the four-mile-long, meandering Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive, open to vehicle, bicycle or foot traffic during daylight hours 365 days a year. Alongside earthen dikes, freshwater pools and hardwood hammocks, you will see ducks and birds of many species, as well as a healthy population of alligators, and every season is different.

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is fun to hike or bike amidst egrets, herons and birds of prey.

See dolphins in the waters of Port Royal Plantation or try kayaking.

With so many making our wilderness and public lands a priority, significant gains can be made in passing on to our children the sacred, irreplaceable beauty and wonder of our natural world that we all call home.

Glenda Harris of Bluffton is a freelance writer and editor, nature lover and aspiring novelist.