Wildlife Warriors: NCWF Chapters and Volunteers Further the Legacy of Conservation Heroes
“Humans have been very poor stewards of this planet. It’s high time that anyone who is able works to make a positive difference for wildlife and habitat.” – Kristyna Culp, NCWF volunteer and president of MARSH Community Wildlife Chapter in Union County, NC.
NCWF’s influence spans 100 counties from the mountains to the coast and advocates for thousands of species of wildlife – as well as the habitats that they call home. With such an undertaking, one thing is certain: the work could not be done without the tireless efforts of volunteers, wildlife conservation warriors who have taken up the mantle to be voices for the voiceless in our state.
But real change cannot happen in isolation. It takes a community of impassioned individuals working towards a common goal in order to achieve tangible progress.
“I enjoy working side by side with people with a similar passion.” Says Monty Morée, NCWF volunteer and President of South Wake Conservationists, “It gives me hope to see so many people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and make a difference. No mistake, we have a lot of work to do… but we’re undaunted.”
The fight for wildlife and habitat is not a new fight, and this community of conservation did not just appear out of thin air. It was built – laboriously and with great sacrifice – on the backs of conservation pioneers such as Aldo Leopold, Hattie Carthan, Theodore Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, EO Wilson, and many more.
But it should come as no surprise that the fight is not over. And in the words of Kristyna Culp, the good news is that a little work goes a long way.
“You don’t have to tend 20 acres of native plantings in order to make a difference. I mean it would still be really awesome if someone wanted to do that…” Culp says with a laugh, “But small steps go a long way. For example, providing a water source year-round in your backyard can make a huge difference for the wildlife in your neighborhood. Also, any pollinator support plant you can provide can make a huge difference for native bees and butterflies.”
These are just a couple of the many objectives accomplished by volunteers through NCWF Community Wildlife Chapter native plantings, habitat restorations, trash cleanups, and educational events. This hands-on, habitat-centric work is essential for the betterment of wildlife. However, according to Morée and Culp, the public education aspect plays an integral role in furthering the mission of conservation.
“One of my favorite memories from my time as a volunteer was last year during South Wake Conservationists’ Kids in Nature Day.” Says Morée with a smile, “It’s important to us that we find a way to connect kids with nature. It’s a big undertaking, and we were certainly nervous, but in the end, we provided the next generation with a way to connect with nature, and provided them a sense of inspiration.”
Culp has also become involved in wildlife education programs for children and adults alike, and has a passion for teaching people how to be wildlife stewards in their own suburban backyards.
“I love helping people realize that they can have a beautiful, HOA approved front or backyard – and still support wildlife.” Says Culp.
Between Culp and Morée, there is a similar urgency, a drive to act now for wildlife and habitat – because tomorrow might be too late.
“I always had a love for animals, wildlife, and the natural world growing up. But now I am concerned about the relentless damage to the environment, wildlife, and habitat caused by harmful industrial and cultural practices worldwide.” Says Morée, “But the NCWF mission to protect, conserve and restore North Carolina wildlife and habitat is well aligned with where I want to direct my energies.”
Guided by NCWF’s mission, Morée and Culp – and many, many more volunteers like them – have stepped up to the plate for wildlife and habitat, just like the generations of conservation heroes before them.
Many have heard the call of these conservation pioneers and have taken action. It is all of our responsibilities to continue in this legacy, and to stand alongside one another for the betterment of wildlife and habitat.
“These people that I work alongside give me confidence that we can make a real difference in the conservation cause.” Says Morée, “If we are aligned, we are a very powerful force for change. It is inspiring to work alongside these good people, to learn from them, and to accomplish tangible results together.”
– Written by Bates Whitaker, NCWF Communications & Marketing Manager