Carol Buie-Jackson was recently elected to the National Wildlife Federation’s board of directors.
The National Wildlife Federation is the largest wildlife conservation organization in the United States.
Buie-Jackson, who lives in Matthews, said she will be the Region 3 director, meaning she is the liaison between the national board and the state affiliates of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
“We’re all working toward the same thing: We’re trying to create a safe space for wildlife,” Buie-Jackson said. “But each state has a different need, so I’m looking forward to learning what the needs are.”
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Buie-Jackson began her conservationist work in 2001, when she completed the North Carolina Wildlife Federation training to become a habitat steward.
Buie-Jackson started a project to convert Squirrel Lake Park in Matthews to a certified wildlife habitat. This means many areas in the town provide food, water, shelter and a place for animals to raise their young. She said she set up a bird-feeding system and planted native plants.
For the Charlotte area, native plants include dogwood trees, sweetshrub, beautyberry, milkweed and black-eyed susan, Buie-Jackson said. She said milkweed is what Monarch butterflies depend on.
Buie-Jackson said the park project led her to co-found the Matthews chapter of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, called Habitat and Wildlife Keepers (HAWK). She said she also helped Matthews get certified as a wildlife habitat. In 2012, she became the first woman chairperson in the 75-year history of the NCWF.
Buie-Jackson said, in the Charlotte-area, an increasing number of developments have destroyed natural habitats, which has displaced the animals who lived there.
“As we take the habitat out and put up another apartment building, if the rest of us band together and convert our backyards back to more native plants, then those animals have a place to be,” she said. “If we can all work together, we can create a corridor through this area so the animals can move. It’s all about working with individual homeowners to convert as much of their garden as they can to native plants so that they’ll support wildlife and pollinators.”
Charlotte and the Lake Norman area also are certified wildlife habitats, she said.
Buie-Jackson’s love for nature began when she was a kid. She said she was always playing outside with her siblings, horses and dogs.
She said the NCWF has an initiative, called Great Outdoors University, that encourages children to experience the outdoors. The organization partners with after-school programs in areas where urban youth don’t have well-organized boy and girl scout troops, or safe places to play outside. The NCWF takes the kids on fishing, hiking and kayaking trips.
“If you don’t experience (nature) as a child and have a positive experience, then you’re not going to fall in love with it,” Buie-Jackson said. “And then when you get to be my age, you’re not going to fight for it the way I’m trying to fight for it.”
Buie-Jackson, 55, is an avid birder, kayaker and walker. She also owns Bird House on the Greenway, a bird store in south Charlotte.
“I get to talk to people all day long about how to create a habitat and attract birds to their yard,” she said. “I’m a corporate America dropout. Helping animals and wildlife became more important.”
Jane Little: 704-358-5336; @janelittle26