The Bringing Nature Home Award is due August 20, 2022. Apply here!
Native plants are pretty groovy—they have the power to sustain wildlife, protect our homes, and beautify communities. Shirley Heinze Land Trust works hard to restore natives throughout our nature preserves, and we also recognize the power a person holds to restore natural habitat. Each year, we present Bringing Nature Home awards to individuals, families, schools, businesses, cities, and other institutions who have dedicated their space to supporting native plants and wildlife.
Why Native Plants?
Among their seemingly endless list of benefits, native plants provide food and habitat for local pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. They require no fertilizer, whose overuse is not only expensive but pollutes our waterways. Native plants also use much less water than their grass lawn counterparts, while preventing flooding and soil erosion.
Why Bring Nature Home?
In addition to supporting healthy habitats, Bringing Nature Home helps the community. Well-manicured lawns became a status symbol in 17th century England. Maintaining this status today often leaves people unable to afford lawn care or facing judgment if their grass isn’t cut to the right height. And as Americans spend more and more time indoors, having access to nature becomes crucial to our wellbeing. When people trade the sound of lawnmowers for birdsong, neighborhoods are much quieter, peaceful, and welcoming.
Perhaps the most rewarding of all is creating your own natural space, whether you have a small porch, roadside median, or sprawling backyard. Surrounding yourself in nature has incredible health benefits including helping you feel more calm and focused and boosting your immune system, while gardening combats stress, anxiety, and depression.
Bringing Nature Home is more than just planting seeds.
This is part of a movement to get people thinking differently about their lawn while learning about their local ecosystems. There are other local and nationwide programs that recognize native plant gardening and even some that certify green, energy-efficient homes.
Check out all the “backyard certifications” below, and challenge yourself to get as many as you can!
Certify Your Habitat to Help Wildlife! – Certified Wildlife Habitat – NWF
Perhaps the most recognizable award, the Certified Wildlife Habitat provides a holistic approach to backyard certifications by ensuring your space has food, water, and shelter for local wildlife.
Butterfly Garden – Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes
Wild Ones, with a chapter based out of Gibson Woods in Hammond, IN, is a national nonprofit dedicated to native plant landscaping, offer a Butterfly Garden Certification Program.
Butterfly Garden Certification Program – North American Butterfly Association
This program requires at least three (3) sources of caterpillar food, three (3) sources of nectar for butterflies, and refraining from pesticide use. You can even get a certification just for monarchs if you grow milkweed!
Monarch Watch Monarch Waystation Program
Just like the rest stops along highways, Monarch Waystations offer pit stops for traveling monarchs. The Monarch Joint Venture is a multi-partnership organization dedicated to monarch habitat, research, and education.
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge (MPGC) – This project
Certify Your Native Garden – INPS
Certify a Wildlife Habitat – Indiana Wildlife Federation
Conservation@ Programs | Natural Land Institute – Northern Illinois
Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary Certification – Illinois Audubon Society
Michigan United Conservation Clubs Pollinator Habitat Designation Program
Green Home Certifications:
Guide to LEED Certification: Homes | U.S. Green Building Council
NGBS Green Certification | Home Innovation Research Labs
Signs for Sale
Rather than an application, these signs are available for purchase and are another way to show your support for pollinator-friendly gardens!
Xerces Society – Pollinator Habitat and Leave the Leaves Sign