Wildlife High School - A for Effort

This one intrigued me.  An article online today at AJC.com titled 'School earns wildlife certification' sounded great.  It was in the North Fulton news section so I thought we might have something noteworthy on our hands.  Here's the lowdown:
  • School - Johns Creek High School
  • Organization - National Wildlife Federation
  • Certification/Award - Certified Wildlife Habitat

This is part of a greater certification that Johns Creek is working on that would certify the city as a community wildlife habitat.  

I have a problem with it because it's inherently misleading.  Calling a school a 'certified wildlife habitat' immediately makes one think this school is focused on nature and preserving the natural environment.  Just take a look at the Google Maps image below.  

From what I can tell, about the only true 'wildlife' that this school is certified to nurture and sustain are cars, teenagers, football players, baseball players, softball players, fans and the like.  Sure, the open fields could attract some migratory birds and the Johns Creek Greenway runs through site but is that really grounds for a wildlife habitat certification?  The fields are residual space or sports fields and the greenway is a convenient suburban buffer zone between differing land uses.  It's a good use for the land given the situation but a wildlife paradise it's not and we shouldn't pretend that it is.

Now, I don't want to downplay what Johns Creek Student Malcolm Barnard is doing because his intentions are good and I commend him for his efforts.  However, I find fault with the National Wildlife Federation for turning what should be a meaningful certification into what essentially amounts to a boy scout merit badge.  Saying that Johns Creek High School is a Wildlife Habitat is a joke.  With the right amount of effort, any school in the nation could 'earn' that title.

Here are some ways the school could have truly been more wildlife friendly...

  • Reduce it's footprint - kids don't need acres upon acres of land to be educated. Wildlife does need acres upon acres to have a legitimate habitat.
  • Locate better - yes, the school is close to a couple subdivisions and some basic service businesses but is anyone really walking around over there?  Reducing the demand for busing and driving will reduce the parking footprint thus reducing the footprint.
  • Put a green roof on it - a green roof would give it some serious green street cred while also saving energy in the long run, reducing runoff and creating 'habitat' for birds and insects.

Sorry Malcolm, you get an A for effort but I'm calling foul on the National Wildlife Federation here.