This program was the brainchild of Craig Tufts, the Chief Naturalist and Director of Citizen Science Programs with the NWF. I don't believe any words are necessary to illustrate Craig's commitment to preserving wild places, converting would-be sterile yards to useful patches of viable habitat for everything with fur, feathers, fins, or scales, and his commitment to engaging the general public with nature. But here are a few from his staff page from the NWF web site:
Tufts is a natural history specialist with interests in native plants, birds, butterflies and other insects and their inter-relationships. As a staff member with NWF for more than 30 years, Tufts currently serves as chief naturalist and oversees the FrogWatch USA program as well as development of NWF’s Wildlife Watch. Tufts developed NWF’s hallmark Backyard Wildlife Habitat program and assisted in the evolution of its Schoolyard and Community Habitat efforts. He is the author of two books on wildlife gardening and has appeared on numerous television programs dealing with this topic. Tufts received his bachelor’s degree in wildlife conservation and a master’s degree in environmental education from Cornell University. He most recently edited NWF’s new North American field guides to Birds and Insects.
Sadly, Craig lost his year-long battle with cancer yesterday. We've lost a champion in the environmental effort, but think of the legacy Craig left in his wake. Not only are there untold acres available for wildlife, there are an untold number of kids experiencing the diversity of life, day by day, right outside their back doors. I look at the diversity of plants and animals in our yard and appreciate what we've been able to accomplish, but that pales in comparison to the feeling I get when I see the excitement in our daughter's eyes when she's engaged with the flowers, the fruits, the bees, the butterflies, the dragon- and damselflies, the frogs and toads, the birds, the mammals . . . the list goes on and on.
And we know, because of these experiences, she'll become an excellent steward when she comes of age -- in no small part due to Craig's efforts. Craig will be missed, but will always be remembered, each time we step out into our yard.