Posted by: Brenda Kula | September 15, 2008

The Little Things

Look what I got in the mail last week. Remember me filling out the online questionnaire to see if my yard would qualify as a certified wildlife habitat? And it did. It wasn’t as difficult as I’d thought.

I didn’t put the sign up right away, as we were expecting the hurricane winds and I didn’t want it torn down. Luckily, we fared well and just got rain. So today I put it in it’s special place I picked out.

It’s backdrop is a palm. Kind of looks like it’s in a jungle or wildlife park, doesn’t it? Nope, as I’ve said before, I’m a block from probably the busiest highway in this city. If I can fulfill the criteria for a wildlife habitat in my yard, it isn’t all that hard for you to help nature out a little bit, should this idea interest you. I found I already had their requirements supplied in my yard, as you likely do too.

With buildings and new commercial and residential developments going up everywhere, all nature’s various wild creatures get driven out of their homes. They are Mother Nature’s homeless. But you and I can create a small sanctuary in which for them to dwell. If you’re interested in getting your yard certified as a wildlife habitat, please visit the National Wildlife Federation at and see if your yard has the essentials. You pay a fee to join if you so choose to. (I think it was $15. And if you want a sign like this, I paid $25 extra to get this permanent sign to display.) But there’s lot of free things they’ll teach you too.

It is a wonderful website full of free design plans, information on what native plants are appropriate for your particular area. And they post photos others have shared of the nature in their own yards. I can spend hours perusing this site and reading up on things about giving nature a helping hand that I can easily achieve here in my own yard. As you know, plants grow better in their native environment. And thrive.

There are volunteer opportunities with NWF for wherever you happen to reside. For instance, there is Frogwatch USA. You sign up and find out where you can observe frogs and toads and write down your observations. Well, I figure, having been married three times in my 51 years, and having played the field when I was young and wasn’t hitched, I found my fair share of toads out there in the world. I didn’t stop to write down my observations. But looking back on it now, had I done so, I likely wouldn’t have made the same mistakes twice! So frog and toad watching may be a skill I want to master. Reminds me of the old saying, “Look before you leap.”

I think nature’s frogs and toads are cute little fellers myself, being a simple Texas gal. They seem pretty harmless to me.

There are also lots of ways to engage children with nature. This site gives you information about both structured and unstructured activities with to enlist the entire family. There is what is called The Green Hour, which teaches parents to provide children one hour of outside, unstructured time per day to perceive nature’s inner workings. I for one think kids spend far too much time with gadgetry and television and cell phones. Might learn something useful while quietly observing frogs and toads with Mom or Dad or Grandma or Grandpa, etc.

Children who regularly spend unstructured time outside:

  • Play more creatively
  • Have lower stress levels
  • Have more active imaginations
  • Become fitter and leaner
  • Develop stronger immune systems
  • Experience fewer symptoms of ADD and ADHD
  • Hey, I think that might help me out too! I like being creative. I need to lower stress levels before the belly fat takes over, due to the hormone stress releases that causes weight gain. I have an active imagination, certainly, and need to become fitter and leaner. (No, I promise; not meaner…) I could use a stronger immune system with these chronic respiratory problems. And I may even have a few symtoms of ADD or ADHD.

    I saw other ways for the family to get together for the greater good while I was reading their scheduled activities and future events. I know I want my grandson and soon-to-be-born granddaughter to learn all about nature. About doing good things for the environment and staying safe. And keeping nature’s creatures safe too.



    1. Good for you! I have thought about looking into this, but didn’t have a clue if my small backyard would qualify. You have motivated me to find out!

    2. Wow I am so impressed with you!!
      This is incredible!

    3. I think I’ll have another look at this. Interesting and a good idea, too!

    4. Couldn’t we all use some unstructured time outside!
      On behalf of the little creatures you are helping, let me say “Thank You, Brenda!”

    5. That is great! I think my backwoods might qualify. I’m not sure about my yard.

      I don’t remember children having anything that remotely resembled ADD or ADHD when I was growing up. Every one came out to play and throughly enjoyed themselves until made to come in night.

    6. Great post. Thank you for all the info. I have seen my share of frogs & toads too…in my younger years 😉
      Take care DebraK

    7. That is so cool! Very good post. It makes me want to check out the site you mentioned. (my yard certainly looks like wilderness! It always seems to get away from me!)

    8. Great job Brenda.

      I think you have just provided me with the perfect excuse to putter in the garden. I must need unstructured time as well.

    9. I’m so proud of you. I have just thought about doing this but you have actually done it. I’m sure the wildlife in your area is thankful too.


    10. Hi Brenda,

      Congrat’s to you. How exciting. You have a lovely yard and I think it is great that you took the steps and got approved. Yayy!!

    11. Very cool! Congrats Brenda!
      Sounds like a great site.

    12. Congratulations for becoming your backyard sanctuary officially certified…

      This is a great post, Brenda. I grew up with a great appreciation of the great outdoors. Climbing tall fruit trees and catching spiders and dragonflies were my favorites things growing up in the PHilippines. Stress and depression were unheard of and believe me when I say that.

      Have a lovely day.

    13. I appreciate you educating us about the National Wildlife Federation.

    14. Excellent, wonderful thought-provoking post! As kids in Grand Saline, we used to play outdoors from “dew on the grass” to “catching fireflies” each day. Even many of our country chores were outdoors – gathering eggs, drawing water, hanging and gathering in laundry, raking acres of yard, snapping tubs of beans and preparing other garden harvests for canning – all punctuated with hearty meals and lots of kool-aid. I don’t remember having ever heard of a child with ADD or any hyper disorder. I think there may be some real truth in a “green” hour. I want one too!


    15. Congratulations on your Wildlife Habitat! I looked into this earlier this summer, just need to fill out the application still, lol. Maybe I will have more time this winter.

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