Faith In Action: Creating a Backyard Habitat
Materials for Activity
- Seedlings for local plants that provide food or shelter for animals (e.g., butterfly bush, milkweed, berry shrubs)
- Items to hold water such as a bird bath or a fountain
- Shovels, watering cans, and digging tools
- Optional: Items to shelter animals, such as a bird house or a bat box
Preparation for Activity
- With your minister, building and grounds committee, and religious educator, identify a habitat niche you can create in your locale and plan a backyard habitat for your grounds.
- Investigate local wildlife needs by consulting government or conservation agencies, such as EPA or the Audubon Society. Determine beneficial plants and trees to support local wildlife. The National Wildlife Federation’ kids and families page has exciting family resources for outdoor experiences. The same organization has a page where you can certify your backyard habitat.
- Plan a date for building the habitat. Publicize this event in your congregation and in the larger community.
- Optional: Invite a wildlife expert to speak to your congregation about these needs.
- Optional: Provide backyard habitat information to all members of your congregation. Invite them to join the group for this activity and/or create their own backyard habitats at their homes.
Description of Activity
Involve your entire congregation in activities related to creating your backyard habitat, such as installing a fountain or birdbath, making birdhouses, planting food plants or providing cover. Choose a day to construct a backyard habitat on your congregational grounds.
Process the experience with questions like:
- How does creating a backyard habitat reflect our Unitarian Universalist beliefs?
- What UU Sources point us to show love by creating a backyard habitat? (third Source, world religions, Hindu respect for animals and doing no harm (ahimsa); fifth Source, reason and science, understanding what animals need to survive and understanding that our environments needs the animals; sixth Source, earth-centered religions and harmony of nature)
- What do we hope will happen in our backyard habitat?
- What more could we do to support local wildlife?
- How could we encourage others in our community to create their own backyard habitats?
Optional: celebrate your new backyard habitat by installing a certified wildlife habitat sign (available for a fee from the National Wildlife Federation).