Community Wildlife Habitat Initiative

A Great Opportunity for Billings to Show How Much the Community Values Wildlife and Wild Places

Liz has found inspiration and solace in nature since her childhood in Virginia, where her family often hiked in the Shenandoah National Park. Since then, her twin passions of athletic activities and the outdoors have earned her a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from Ithaca College. Besides shaping her academic pursuits, Liz’s love of nature has driven her to seek out adventure — hiking to the summit of Mt. Whitney, skiing in the shadow of the Matterhorn, biking through the gorges of the Allegheny Mountains from Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh, adventure racing internationally in Belize and Portugal. Her yearly visits with her parents to Lake Tahoe to ski and hike sparked a growing interest in environmental education as she learned of the intense and effective community involvement there to protect the lake and its environs. As a result, she is in the home stretch of obtaining a Master’s Degree in Resilient and Sustainable Communities from Green Mountain College and has also completed an 11-month AmeriCorps term as an education and outreach assistant with the Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) in Incline Village, NV.

She returns to Billings to serve a six-month AmeriCorps term through the Montana Wildlife Federation. She is confident that her degree and the field experience she gained with TERC will enable her to help foster within Billings a love of the environment through community outreach. Beyond that, she hopes to inspire people to embrace healthier, more sustainable lifestyles through seemingly small changes in their daily actions to help preserve and protect our precious environment – for themselves and for future generations.

During her term of service with the Montana Wildlife Federation, Liz will be leading the Community Wildlife Habitat initiative. Under the Certified Wildlife Habitat programs, homeowners, businesses, schools, and other properties can receive recognition for landscaping practices that provide quality habitat for desirable wildlife, such as native birds, amphibians, and pollinators like bees and butterflies. These practices include reducing the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, conserving water, planting native plants, removing invasive weeds, and composting. The program enhances and restores wildlife corridors in urban and suburban areas, improves resistance to drought and other climate changes, conserves water, and makes the environment healthier for people — outcomes that benefit people and wildlife. So far, 26 homes, one school, and four common areas in Billings are already certified under the Certified Wildlife Habitat program.

The goal of the new initiative is to build upon those numbers and eventually to have the entire community certified. When that occurs, Billings will join Missoula, which was certified as Community Wildlife Habitat in 2017, and 95 other cities, towns, counties and neighborhoods across the nation. A city-wide certification is achievable through the eagerness of the residents to get their individual properties certified to create a healthier, greener, and more wildlife-friendly place to call home. By pursuing this status, Billings is sending a clear message about how much the community values wildlife, wild places.