By Liz Bronson
The Gardening for Wildlife project has gained some traction in the few months I’ve been here. Of the 400 points needed to certify Billings, we have completed the tasks to apply to earn 165, with more on the way. One such task in the registration category is to throw a kickoff party. On December 6th, we hosted Wildlife Gardening Comes to Billings — a pint night at Thirsty Street Brewing Company. We had a great turn out, and many people came to the table to talk with me about the city-wide project, how to get their own gardens certified, and how to incorporate more native plants and support pollinators like bees and bats. We also got to recognize the owners of DanWalt Gardens for becoming the first community space to certify since the start of the project. They are thrilled to be a part of the project and will get to proudly display their sign at the garden.
The event was a great opportunity to network with like-minded individuals, but even more so to make the project more accessible to the public. Up to this point, I have been making a concerted effort to talk with other organizations, community groups, and businesses to promote the project and focus our efforts around a similar cause. Most of my education and outreach to the general public has been in an indirect manner. I have created outreach materials and displays, and sourced materials from National Wildlife Federation to leave out for people to take at various locations around the city. This division of time will change as I shift gears from organizational outreach to public outreach here in the next month, and I think the kickoff party was a good lead-in to that shift.