Several years ago, many businesses and organizations began offering digital badges to replace the traditional certificates that signify the successful completion of some specialized, non-accredited course or workshop. These badges are icons or symbols that offer instant recognition of the expertise of the individual.
If you’re a fan of social media like I am, then you certainly know about group badge icons. These designations easily identify roles and interests of group members, such as admin/moderator, new member, conversation starter or expert.
But you may not know that there are badges your garden and landscape can earn and that you can share so your friends and neighbors will know about your expertise.
These are more like certificates, but like the digital badge, they offer instant recognition to neighbors and others passing by your garden and landscape.
The first garden badge my garden earned was Certified Wildlife Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation.
My garden and landscape provide sources of food, water and cover, as well as areas to raise babies. I also engage in sustainable gardening practices. Providing these resources for local wildlife is important, as natural habitats are being lost to rapid urban development. A big, 150-plus home development is currently under construction just down the street from my home garden.
For information on becoming a Certified Wildlife Habitat, visit nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/Certify.
My garden’s second badge involved becoming a member of the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail.
The idea for this trail was inspired by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter to help increase the habitat of the Monarch butterfly. This trail program started in Plains, Georgia, and has registered gardens all over the United States. I was privileged to have been an invited speaker at the 2022 Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Symposium held just a few weeks ago.
For information on the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail, visit rosalynncarterbutterflytrail.org/join-the-rosalynn-carter-butterfly-trail.
I’ve recently become a member of Monarch Watch, and I’m waiting for my newest garden badge, the Monarch Waystation plaque.
My garden and landscape were certified as a Monarch Waystation for providing the resources necessary for the Monarch butterflies to produce successive generations and thus sustain their incredible migration across North America. This involves planting forage for the caterpillars and nectar plants to feed the butterflies. I’ve started seeds to grow seven Mississippi native milkweeds, and of course I have lots of nectar-rich flowers.
For information on becoming a Monarch Waystation, visit monarchwatch.org/waystations.
Meeting the requirements to earn these badges is not difficult. You simply confirm that you are or will practice good gardening or conservation practices. Generally, these certifications charge a nominal fee for the badge that you can proudly display.
Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. Contact him at [email protected]