- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 9, 2000

President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the first National Wildlife Week in 1938 to help the public understand the importance of animals and their habitats. This year's celebration, "Water for Life: Keep the Wild Alive," offers seven days of live and cyber events ranging from migratory bird exploration in Georgia to poster contests.
In preparation for the week, which starts next Sunday, check out the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) site. It provides an incredible look at nature and how man can coexist responsibly with Earth's creatures.

National Wildlife Federation

Site address: www.nwf.org.

Creator:

The nonprofit National Wildlife Federation in Vienna is the nation's largest conservation education and advocacy group.

Creator quotable:

"We created this site to connect people to the natural world because when they understand and appreciate it, they will care for it. Our aim is to give people from all walks of life the knowledge, the tools and the practical common-sense approaches that will help save wildlife and wild places," says Phil Kavits, vice president of communications for NWF.

Word from the Webwise:

Through cluttered but color-coordinated opening pages, visitors will find a wealth of information about the amazing organisms around them.
Because it would take days for any nature or animal lover to get through the site, I suggest perusing the list of highlights on the right side of the front page for the quickest entry into the cyber-wild.
One area that will catch the eye immediately is the "Conservation Hall of Fame," which highlights the work of individuals from politics, literature, philosophy and science. Honorees include Wilderness Society founder Robert Marshall; President Theodore Roosevelt, who set up the first wildlife refuges; and Marjory Stoneman Douglas, author of "Everglades: River of Grass." Each person gets a page complete with biography and photos.
The proactive animal enthusiast should check out "Learn Our Issues," which explores the core group of environmental concerns on which the NWF concentrates. It includes areas on "Endangered Species and Habitats," "Land Stewardship," "Water Quality" and "Wetlands," with specific presentations on "Bringing Buffalo Back" and "Restoring America's Wolves." Each area provides plenty of text and activities to immerse the visitor.
For example, "Endangered Species and Habitats" explains the Endangered Species Act, looks at current policy and legislation in Congress, links to the Endangered Species Newsletter area and features a rather large "Kids Place" complete with a quiz on threatened species and "Eight Simple and Fun Things Kids Can Do to Help Save Endangered Species."
Another section filled with information, "Magazines and Publications," contains on-line articles from the various hard-copy subscriptions sold by the NWF. Among the magazines are National Wildlife and International Wildlife, which showcase articles on subjects ranging from the complex world of the cat family to the internal devices that allow species to keep track of time. There also are stunning images from a recent NWF photography competition.
One final section for the budding ecologist, "Backyard Wildlife Habitat," features a step-by-step guide to designing and maintaining a living environment for creatures indigenous to a visitor's surroundings. The section presents everything from tips on attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to ways to create a pond.

Ease of use:

The NWF site comes well equipped with a search engine, category-specific site map and site map with alphabetical listings. Visitors will appreciate these extras and the overall quick load times of the pages.

Family activity:

The entire clan can learn about the brooding habits of the murre, a type of seabird, by participating in a strange relay race. Directions are found under the "Spring 99" area of the "Earthsavers News and Activities" section. The game involves first building replicas of murre eggs using papier-mache and balloons. Once the eggs are constructed, teams act as bird parents and must carry the egg resting on the top of their feet to a designated area, gather some food (grab a cracker out of a bowl) and return to the finish line.

Don't miss:

Children will really enjoy a stop at the "Just for Kids" section, which offers plenty of activities, news and educational games. My favorite challenge, "Match'em," asks the player to identify the tracks of animals such as the skunk, black bear and mink. Correct and incorrect answers discuss the animal in question and some of its characteristics.

Cyber-sitter synopsis:

Parents should be aware that the NWF uses its site to solicit funding for the organization and its projects. However, the majority of the sections present a stimulating environment for younger children to learn about their friends in the wild and a place for families to find numerous activities away from the computer.

Information grade: A

Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message (joseph@twtmail.com).

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