The Colorado Wildlife Heritage Foundation (CWHF), a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 1989 to ensure a wildlife legacy for Colorado through support of environmental stewardship, conservation of wildlife and the protection of critical habitat. In support of this mission, we work closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and other state & federal agencies, multinational corporations, nonprofit organizations and the public to provide funding and resource support services for wildlife and habitat conservation projects statewide. Our areas of focus include: wildlife conservation and research, habitat restoration and preservation, environmental education and the integration of sustainable human and wildlife land use practices. In pursuit of our mission, the Foundation serves all Coloradans by supporting and protecting one of Colorado's most unique and valuable natural resources – wildlife. Much of our work directly benefits wildlife and consequently benefits all citizens of Colorado. The Schoolyard Habitat Program is a unique program administered by the Foundation in that the program specifically targets Colorado youth and educational institutions. A number of the Foundation's other programs serve constituencies outside of the state due to the nature of habitat and wildlife conservation. For example, proceeds from the Colorado Waterfowl Stamp Program support the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, which helps protect critical habitat for Colorado's waterfowl. Currently CWHF administers over $2M in conservation land easements and mitigation funds for state and federal agencies, municipalities and multinational corporations, dispersing them as directed by multi-organization oversight committees. CWHF has also spearheaded numerous significant wildlife projects including the successful reintroduction of the Lynx in Colorado, a $600,000 initiative.
Since the Foundation's inception, CWHF has partnered with CPW (formerly the Colorado Division of Wildlife) to provide the Schoolyard Habitat Program to Colorado's educational institutions. This program administers grants ranging from $250 - $1,000 for schools to design and implement wildlife habitat improvement projects on their school grounds. These habitat projects, which students design with the help of teachers, community members and local experts, range in scope from pollinator gardens to large-scale wetland restoration projects. Students develop important proficiencies as they work as a team, apply critical thinking skills and incorporate math and science knowledge. In this way, the program helps teachers fulfill academic standards while providing an exciting hands-on learning opportunity for students. Each year, students are excited to go outside, get their hands in the dirt, and see the impact their work has on wildlife and their school. By bringing these habitat improvement projects to the schoolyard, students are not only able to directly participate in restoring native wildlife habitat, but they also contribute to their school by creating an outdoor area that serves as a learning lab for years to come. Whether by cultivating science and environmental education, civic responsibility, stewardship, outdoor exploration, nutrition, literacy, art, social skills or something else, the Schoolyard Habitat Program enables schools to make a lasting difference in their communities. In 2012, CWHF is expanding this program to increase the quality, quantity and sustainability of schoolyard habitats statewide.