Thanks to a host of volunteers, including Cambridge High School junior Sarah Ellison, the city is close to earning its certification as a National Wildlife Federation Habitat Community. Ellison, 16, dedicated her Girl Scout Gold Award project to the city’s cause.
“I love wildlife and I thought it would be a great project,” she said.
Local communities achieve points towards the certification by registering green space as wildlife habitats, implementing environmentally friendly projects and educating the public on issues affecting wildlife.
Last week, the city had 320 points towards its 450-point goal and is expecting more points soon, said Milton’s environmental sustainability coordinator Cindy Eade. She said a few point-earning projects have been recently completed or are in the works, including local Eagle Scout Matt D’Amico’s garden at Fire Station No. 42, a native plant rescue initiative and a bioswale restoration at Bell Memorial Park.
In an effort to get more homes, businesses, places of worship and schools registered as wildlife habitats, Ellison has launched a contest. Those who register their yards or green spaces with the National Wildlife Federation by July 20 will be entered into a drawing for a $100 cast-metal sign signifying the community wildlife habitat certification.
“The things that you need [to qualify as a wildlife habitat] are water, a place to raise their young, cover and food,” said Francia Lindon with Milton Grows Green. “It takes literally five minutes to register online.”
Ellison added, “It’s really easy, and it’s a great way to connect with nature.”
There will be one drawing for residents and another for local businesses, places of worship, schools and homeowners’ associations.
“Getting the last remaining homes to be certified is the hardest thing,” Eade said. “You get a lot of real excited people right at first and they jump on the bandwagon and get certified, but then the last 20 or 30 are usually kind of hard.”
In addition to launching the contest, Eade said Ellison has promoted the city project at local events and developed a multimedia presentation to serve as a virtual garden tour of local green spaces.
Register a yard or green space as a community wildlife habitat online at www.nwf.org/garden. For more information, contact Ellison at firstname.lastname@example.org.