The article below is an excerpt from Sandra H. Robinson’s installation acceptance speech as printed in the summer 2015 issue of The National Gardener. Sandra was NGC president from 2015-2017 and very much interested in the environment. As part of “April is Plant America” Month, NGC is printing parts of her speech to honor her legacy.
Today, NGC efforts to protect the environment continue. NGC collaborated with Doug Tallamy to produce a video presentation for NGC members about the Homegrown National Park. Doug Tallamy is credited with demonstrating the link between native plants and native wildlife in his book Bringing Nature Home. With his subsequent book, Nature’s Best Hope, he proposes a grassroots approach to conservation where every homeowner can turn their yards into conservation corridors to support wildlife.
Pollinators and amphibians are two bio indicators who as individuals and populations are used to monitor environmental conditions. Elizabeth Kolbert, states in The Sixth Extinction, “Today, amphibians enjoy the dubious distinction of being the world’s most endangered class of animals; it’s been calculated that the group’s extinction rate could be as much as forty-five thousand times higher than the background rate. But extinction rates among many other groups are fast approaching amphibian levels.” She continues with the admonition that many find it inconceivable that we, man, could possibly be responsible for destroying the integrity of our planet’s ecology. There are psychological barriers to imagining that what we love so much could be lost or destroyed forever.
The public needs to understand the effects of pesticides, the role of native pollinators and plants, and the importance of leaving natural areas in our lawns, parks, and forests. To be truly effective, agriculture, conservationists, and the general public must work together to protect soil, water, air and wildlife habitat. Become familiar with our native bee species, especially the mason bees. Our native crops depend largely upon native bee populations. The eradication of milkweed and the use of pesticides and genetically engineered crops have pushed the species toward extinction.
Young children must learn to love and understand nature before being asked to save it. Scientific evidence identifies a correlation between the experiences of children in the natural world and their ability to learn, along with their physical and emotional health. As a society we have a moral obligation to connect nature and our children. They are the future stewards of what we are working to protect and conserve.
The monarch population has declined by 90 percent since the 1990s. One sobering statement from the collaborative efforts of the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety and the Xerces Society is, “if monarchs were people; that would be like losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio.”
According to the White House blog [of a former Administration], nearly two-thirds of our food is pollinated by bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, thus, their protection is vital to our continued health and welfare. There are 4,000 bee species native to the United States, 20,000 worldwide.
Gardening brings out the beauty, strengths and preferences in plants and people. We nurture our plants, often spending lots of money and time on their survival. We, as garden club members, need to nurture each other. All living things need care to survive. Each of us has unique abilities and talents to bring to the table. Look around your club or community for those who work tirelessly in the background, never asking for recognition or reward, those who give and give and give of their time, resources, and talents and gently nudge them into the forefront. Give praise when due, offer advice, when necessary, recognize potential and ask them to accept a chairmanship or office. Also be aware that some people need more encouragement and direction than others. Be patient. It takes time for a garden to grow and bloom and set seed.
NGC is on the move, we care and we show our care through action. We accept the challenge to protect our pollinators, amphibians, plant gardens and to remember our members. Exciting things are happening through the efforts of our energized committees, which you will find on the website. Visit the site often, it is continually updated.
Gardening is alive and well. Consumers are demanding to know where their food comes from, how it was grown, treated, packaged, and transported. Our leaders, government officials, local politicians, big box stores, growers, and breeders are paying attention. Many have enacted measures to safeguard our health and wildlife as a result of pressure from the buying public.
We do make a difference. Now is not the time to be weary or quit. We care, we are passionate about issues.
All photos by Linda O’Shaughnessy
National Garden Clubs, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization that aims to promote the love of gardening, floral design, and civic and environmental responsibility. There is a local club near you, click here to find one and join. Subscribe to the NGC’s blog by entering your e-mail here. You do not have to be an NGC member to subscribe. NGC welcomes blog article submissions, e-mail the Blog Administrator at email@example.com.