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

January 1
NEPA Enacted (1970)
January 2
Bob Marshall Born (1901)
January 3
Canaveral National Seashore Created (1975)
January 4
The Real James Bond Born (1900)
January 5
National Bird Day
January 6
Wild Kingdom First Airs (1963)
January 7
Gerald Durrell Born (1925)
January 8
Alfred Russel Wallace Born (1823)
January 9
Muir Woods National Monument Created (1908)
January 10
National Houseplant Appreciation Day
January 11
Aldo Leopold Born (1887)
January 12
National Trust of England Established (1895)
January 13
MaVynee Betsch, the Beach Lady, Born (1935)
January 14
Martin Holdgate Born (1931)
January 15
British Museum Opened (1795)
January 16
Dian Fossey Born (1932)
January 17
Benjamin Franklin, America’s First Environmentalist, Born (1706)
January 18
White Sands National Monument Created (1933)
January 19
Yul Choi, Korean Environmentalist, Born (1949)
January 19
Acadia National Park Established (1929)
January 20
Penguin Appreciation Day
January 21
The Wilderness Society Founded (1935)
January 22
Iraq Sabotages Kuwaiti Oil Fields (1991)
January 23
Sweden Bans CFCs in Aerosols (1978)
January 24
Baden-Powell Publishes “Scouting for Boys” (1908)
January 25
Badlands National Park Established (1939)
January 26
Benjamin Franklin Disses the Bald Eagle (1784)
January 27
National Geographic Society Incorporated (1888)
January 28
Bermuda Petrel, Thought Extinct for 300 Years, Re-discovered (1951)
January 29
Edward Abbey, author of “Desert Solitaire,” Born (1927)
January 30
England Claims Antarctica (1820)
January 31
Stewart Udall, Secretary of Interior, Born (1920)
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