National Wildlife Federation Created (1936)

The famous editorial cartoonist and conservationist Ding Darling had a vision for a new organization that would unite local and state groups—a national wildlife organization.  And so he made it happen!

“Ranger Rick” is the world’s oldest and most widely read nature magazine for children

Ding Darling (1876-1962) was the Pulitzer-Prize-winning cartoonist for the Des Moines Register (see more  here)  But he was also a devoted conservationist, with strong beliefs that our nation’s soils, wetlands and waterfowl needed protection.  He became Chief of the U. S. Biological Survey (now the Fish and Wildlife Service) for a brief two years, serving under President Franklin Roosevelt during 1934-1935.  During that time, he turned the survey from a sleepy bureaucracy into the modern, professional organization we know today.  He kick-started the system of national wildlife refuges and implemented the Duck Stamp that supports the purchase and maintenance of those refuges, now numbering more than 550 throughout the country.

But he had another vision as well.  He watched as local and some state-wide conservation groups formed and played major roles in their communities.  Darling believed the nation needed a conservation organization, too, in order to protect and enhance resources on a much large scale. He convinced President Roosevelt to hold a national meeting of conservation agencies and organizations in early February, 1936.  It was attended by 1500 people—and has been held annually ever since.

During that meeting, on February 5, the assembled delegates agreed to form the General Wildlife Federation.  Following Darling’s plan, the Federation was intended to represent state-level conservation groups, now unified so they could speak with a common voice.  The delegates elected Darling as president, a post he retained for several formative years of the new group.  The Federation was quickly endorsed by the states; within months forty-four states had formed state federations (now called affiliates) as the basis for the national group.  In 1938, the group changed its name to the National Wildlife Federation, as we still know it today.

The National Wildlife Federation has programs reaching the most remote parts of the world–and your neighborhood.

Since then, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has become one of the largest and most influential conservation organizations in the U.S. and the world.  The NWF has over 6 million individual members and 51 affiliate groups (state, territorial and regional).  It publishes several popular magazines, including National Wildlife for adults and Ranger Rick for children.  It produces a television program and has a variety of internet and social media platforms.

The organization’s fundamental mission, however, has not changed since its inception—to conserve and enhance wildlife.  Their current strategic plan states their mission this way:

“We believe America’s experience with cherished landscapes and wildlife has helped define and shape our national character and identity for generations. Protecting these natural resources is a cause that has long united Americans from all walks of life and political stripes. To hunters, anglers, hikers, birders, wildlife watchers, boaters, climbers, campers, cyclists, gardeners, farmers, forest stewards, and other outdoor enthusiasts, this conservation ethic represents a sacred duty and obligation to protect and build upon our conservation heritage for the sake of wildlife, ourselves, our neighbors, and—most of all—for future generations.”

            To address that mission, the NWF partners with well over 100 other organizations in both the private and public sector.  They advocate for public policies that enhance wildlife conservation, both in the U.S. and around the world.

References:

Lendt, David. L.  2991,  Ding—The Life of Jay Norwood Darling.  Maecenas Press, Mt. Pleasant, SC.  196 pages.

National Wildlife Federation.  2017.  Strategic Plan.  Available at:  https://www.nwf.org/-/media/NEW-WEBSITE/Shared-Folder/PDFs/2017_NWF-Strategic-Plan_interactive.ashx.  Accessed February 2, 2018.

Nielsen, Larry A.  2017.  Nature’s Allies—8 Conservationist Who Changed Our World.  Island Press, Washington DC, 255 pages.

This Month in Conservation

June 1
US Announced Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement (2017)
June 2
Edwin Way Teale, Nature Writer, Born (1899)
June 2
Rodne Galicha, Philippine Environmentalist, Born (1979)
June 3
The World’s First Wilderness Area Established (1924)
June 4
Gaylord Nelson, Politician and Conservationist, Born (1916)
June 5
World Environment Day
June 6
Novarupta Volcano Erupted in Alaska (1912)
June 7
Thomas Malthus Published His Famous Essay (1798)
June 8
Bryce Canyon National Park Created (1923)
June 9
Coral Triangle Day
June 10
E. O. Wilson, Father of Biodiversity, Born (1929)
June 11
Jacques Cousteau, Ocean Explorer, Born (1910)
June 12
Frank Chapman, Creator of the Christmas Bird Count, Born (1864)
June 13
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, Born (1944)
June 14
Bramble Cay Melomys Went Extinct (2016)
June 15
Global Wind Day
June 16
Gray Whale Delisted (1994)
June 17
World Day to Combat Desertification
June 18
Alexander Wetmore, Ornithologist and Smithsonian Leader, Born (1866)
June 19
Feast of the Forest, Palawan, Philippines
June 20
Great Barrier Reef Protected (1975)
June 21
World Hydrography Day
June 22
Cuyahoga River Burst into Flames (1969)
June 23
Antarctic Treaty Implemented (1961)
June 24
David McTaggart, Greenpeace Leader, Born (1932)
June 25
David Douglas, Pioneering Botanist, Born (1799)
June 26
United Nations Chartered (1945)
June 27
Tajik National Park Added to World Heritage List (2013)
June 28
Mark Shand, Asian Elephant Conservationist, Born (1951)
June 29
Mesa Verde National Park Created (1906)
June 30
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Created (1940)
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