Recently, my family was lucky enough to get up close and personal with some inspiring critters. A local wildlife rescue center was showcasing some of its residents at a community event, which gave my daughter a unique glimpse at some fascinating animals, including hawks, owls, and even snakes.
The experience was a great jumping-off point to start talking about the importance of protecting wildlife and what we could do as a family. Here are a few of the ideas we were inspired to try:
Visit A Wildlife Rescue Center
Creating awareness goes a long way toward solving issues, like saving endangered wildlife. The first step to lending a hand is educating your family on why it’s important.
Explaining what rescuing animals means and why some animals are endangered can be a challenge. It’s always beneficial to be visual and hands-on when teaching big concepts to kids. Before you make any plans to volunteer, pay a visit to a local rescue center to learn more about why animals need help. While you’re there, you can sign up for activities that family members of all ages can participate in.
Wildlife habitats aren’t relegated to far-flung forests and mountaintops. Wildlife that’s native to your area more than likely makes its home in community spots, like your neighborhood park or beach. Keeping those places clean ensures that the local wildlife has a safe place to live. Volunteer with a community organization on a cleanup day, picking up trash and debris. Even if you can’t make a specific event, you can still make an impact by doing your own cleanup whenever you visit your local park or hiking trail; bring along a trash bag, and make an effort to pick up any trash you spot.
Plant A Home
Native trees and plants offer natural habitats and feeding spots for the wildlife in your community. In some cities, however, those much-needed plants are becoming rare, thanks to development. Help rebuild and redevelop the animals’ natural homes by planting new ones.
It can be as simple as planting some milkweed in your own backyard to feed the Monarch butterfly population—or you can work on a larger scale by volunteering with a local conservation group that plants and cares for trees in your area.
Feed The Animals
While it isn’t always the best idea to feed a wild animal, there are some safe ways to give your local wildlife a nutritious meal when they need one. Bird feeders, for example, are an excellent way to help ensure native birds in your backyard get enough to eat, especially during wintertime when food sources can be scarce. They’re easy to set up and a great way to teach kids that even small acts can make a big difference.
To set up a safe and healthy food source for hummingbirds, you only need a few items. You can purchase a glass feeder at most garden stores or make one of your own from recycled materials. We used an empty liquor bottle, but you can use any clear glass or plastic bottle.
Wrap craft wire around the bottle to create a hanger, add a feeder tube in the top, and hang it upside down. You can add colorful beads to the wiring or glue plastic flowers on the sides to attract birds. When filling your feeder, avoid the red-dyed nectar, which may be harmful, and make your own nectar by mixing water and sugar using this recipe from the Audubon Society.
The most important lesson you can impart to your young ones is that it doesn’t take a lot of work to make a difference. Even something as small as a recycled craft project can assist local wildlife in your neighborhood.
How do you bolster the wildlife in your area? Have you made your own bird feeder with your kids? Share photos of your sweet creations with @TomsofMaine!
Image source: Sher Warkentin
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.