Medina County Soil and Water Conservation District education coordinator Linda Schneider created a Certified Community Habitat garden at her home in Liverpool Township.
PHOTO COURTESY LINDA SCHNEIDER Enlarge
Medina County is seven wildlife habitat gardens away from being recognized as a Community Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation, said Linda Schneider of the Medina County Soil and Water Conservation District.
“(The federation) is our partner in this program and they have some goals that have been set,” Schneider, the conservation district’s education coordinator, said. “So 400 is the number of residents that we need to get to become a certified Community Wildlife Habitat.”
For the past two years, residents have been creating backyard animal habitats, slowly but surely helping the conservation district move closer to its goal.
More than 100 communities have received certifications for restoring and creating a habitat and educating residents about how to support it, according the National Wildlife Federation’s website.
Schneider said there are some simple steps property owners can take if they are interested in creating a habitat garden and registering it with the federation.
“To start your wildlife garden, you would need four, maybe five elements,” she said.
The first necessity is to provide food to attract the desired wildlife.
“So say if it was a bird, you would plant shrubs that would produce berries,” Schneider said.
The second step in the process is to provide a water source.
“You could do that with a birdbath or a bowl for toad water, or some people have a stream in their backyard,” she said.
Schneider said it is important to have water sources on all levels of the garden, so even nature’s smallest critters can enjoy a drink.
“You have water for the toads, so you are attracting toads that will catch the insects,” she said. “Toads will actually eat their weight in slugs at night.”
The gardens also need to provide places for the animals to seek shelter as well as to have their young.
“That could be shrubs and trees for some, like birds plant their nests in trees, but some birds actually need nesting boxes, like the bluebirds,” Schneider said.
Lastly, each garden must be considered sustainable.
“That means natural gardens are better for you and for wildlife,” she said. “We put away the chemicals.”
When property owners have achieved all of these objectives, they can submit an application to the National Wildlife Federation. Applications are available at the conservation district’s office at 6090 Wedgewood Road, Lafayette Township.
Schneider said there is a $20 application fee, and applicants are on the honor system to confirm that they have the necessary features to receive certification.
The certification also includes a year’s subscription to National Wildlife magazine.
“(The magazine) helps to keep people informed as to why we are doing this and how important it is,” Schneider said.
She said working on the wildlife habitat project has been personally rewarding.
“This is a dream come true for me because it’s who I am; it’s what I’m all about,” she said. “To be able to incorporate that into your job is just wonderful.”
A demonstration garden can be viewed at the conversation district’s office.
For more information about the wildlife garden certification program, contact Schneider at (330) 722-9321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.