Gardening for Wildlife and Habitat Scavenger Hunt

By: Michele Altherr

This article was first published in PEEC’s Summer 2024 Nature Notes. Within the publication, we unfortunately did not include a link to Michele’s children scavenger hunt, which can now be found at the end of her article here.

In 2016, Los Alamos became a National Wildlife Federation Certified Community Wildlife Habitat thanks to participation of the community.  Residents around the county improved their outdoor space with an eye toward the needs of wildlife and completed a simple online National Wildlife Foundation (NWF) form to certify their space. 

Today we have 240 NWF Certified Wildlife Habitats ranging from homes and workplaces to schools, parks, and places of worship. You are encouraged to join us in the effort to restore vital habitats for wildlife. First, assess your outdoor space and add any missing components needed for wildlife to thrive.  The five components include: 1. food sources, 2. water sources, 3. cover, 4. places to raise young, and 5. sustainable practices. For ideas and certification, visit (

When assessing your outdoor space, consider creating a habitat scavenger hunt to involve the kids! The experience of a hunt will provide a fresh perspective on their outdoor space. They’ll discover that nature is a home for diverse wildlife. Children may think of their own needs and then wonder – What do animals eat?  Where do they find cover in a storm? Where do they raise their young?  

As the adult on the scavenger hunt, try aiding your child’s discoveries by being their guide. Encourage the child to use their senses of sight, smell, and hearing. Help your child focus their attention with questions or by pointing out something interesting. Share your impressions, thoughts and feelings with each other. Save the facts for later. Your child will feel like they are helping to make a difference when you commit to wildlife by certifying your yard.  Enjoy the experience!

Photo Credit: Ryan Ramaker
Feature Photo: The Sensory Garden on Barranca mesa attracts pollinators. Viswanathan sitting with his grandson Aditya Viswanathan.

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