The Naturalized Habitat Network of Essex County& Windsor

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Since our original inception as an experimental pilot program in 2001, we have come a long way. Through focus and dedication, our community-minded group has grown and evolved into the organization it is today. Our ongoing mission of “providing encouragement, education and empowerment toward the establishment of wildlife habitat and other sustainable practices within the home landscape” has produced a number of significant accomplishments and milestones. Along the way, we’ve managed to help change the landscapes of our region as well as the people who create them. The following timeline highlights some of these accomplishments.

April 2001 – A pilot project created to promote native plants and attract wildlife is launched.  This new experimental program is created under the auspices of Point Pelee National Park with a start up grant from Human Resources Development Canada. Work begins to develop the program’s educational materials, promotion strategy and overall philosophy.

June 2001 – After two months of behind the scenes development, the program makes it official public debut under the name “the Leamington Backyard Habitat Program”.

August 2001 – After working with a number of Leamington area residents, the program certifies its first home landscape. The first edition of our newsletter “The New Frontier” also makes its public debut.

September 2001 – Our first Naturalized Garden Tour is launched, showcasing a number of home landscapes in Windsor.

January 2002 – After a unanimous decision to expand our services beyond Leamington, the program announces its first name change as “The Backyard Habitat Program of Essex County & Windsor”. We also launch our first series of the Naturalized Landscape Course, starting with two classes in Windsor and Leamington. Since then, over 400 area residents have been served by this unique course.

February 2002 – In response to requests from residents outside of Essex County for assistance in creating naturalized landscapes, a portable educational program is developed.  Created as a one day event, the Naturalized Landscape Workshop makes its debut in Ridgetown.

September 2002 – In a cooperative effort with local native plant growers, Essex County's very first native plant sale is held.

April 2003 – In an effort to follow up our Naturalized Landscape Courses with some hands on educational opportunities, the first of series of nature walks begins.

September 2003 – The first Native Plant Propagation Workshop is developed and conducted.

April 2004 – After months of preparation, the first Naturalized Landscape Conference is organized, attracting several noted speakers and over 100 attendees.

August 2004 – Our first published book, “The Naturalized Gardener’s Handbook for Windsor and Essex County” makes its public debut.

September 2004 – Our organization becomes incorporated as an official not-for-profit organization and is re-launched under the new name of the Naturalized Habitat Network of Essex County & Windsor.

April 2005 – After months of research and development, our own “Carolinian Cascade” rain barrel makes its public debut during Earth Week. Presently, we have produced and distributed enough barrels to create a combined volume of over 3,000 Imperial gallons, or 15,000 litres.  
September 2006 - Our organization is selected as the recipient of the Paul McGaw Memorial Conservation Award. This is awarded by the North American Native Plant Society in recognition of our "extraordinary contribution... to the conservation, protection or restoration of the natural heritage and native flora of North America at the community, regional, provincial/state, national or continental level."  
November 2006 - After much preparation, our organization receives government recognition as an official registered charity.
March 2007 - Since first introducing our Naturalized Landscape Course in 2002, our course crossed a significant milestone, as we taught our 500th participant.
September, 2008 - We certified our 50th home landscape.

 September, 2009 - Our organization introduces our first regional publication, "The Native Seed Identification & Cultivation Guide for Southern Ontario".
January, 2010 - Our organization's educational efforts are acknowledged, as we are recipients of the Essex Region Conservation Authority's Annual Conservation Award.
July, 2010 - Our organization is selected by Earth Day Canada as one of a select group of top ten community-based environmental organizations for the entire nation.