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Today is March 3

World Wildlife Day

As the world’s population has increased, so, too, has the need to accommodate such growth. Areas that were wild as recently as 100 years ago may have long since been overrun by housing and urban development, leaving little space for local wildlife to call home.

According to the World Wildlife Federation’s “Living Planet Report 2018,” populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians declined by 60 percent in the roughly 40 years prior to the report’s release. The WWF notes that the primary threats to wildlife populations, which include habitat loss and degradation, can be directly linked to human activities.

If human activities contributed to the decline of wildlife populations, then there’s hope that human activities also can spur the return of such populations. The Animal Welfare Institute notes that the following are some things that ordinary citizens can do to help local wildlife.

· Exercise your right to engage in the political process. Voting may be the simplest way to engage in the democratic process, but it’s by no means the only way people can make their voices heard. Write to local and national government officials and encourage them to support and/or introduce policies that protect wildlife.

· Plant native species. Native species of flowers, trees and bushes provide food and shelter to local wildlife. When designing landscapes and gardens, speak with a local lawn and garden professional about which species are native to your area and do your best to plant those species. Gardeners may be frustrated when local wildlife eat plants or flowers they worked hard to plant, but the right species may even grow back during the same season after being eaten by local wildlife.

· Reduce the amount of lawn in your yard. A pristine lawn can be eye-catching, but lawns do not provide significant food and shelter to local wildlife. Garden beds, native plants and flowers provide both aesthetic appeal and food for local wildlife.

· Embrace a new approach to fall cleanup. Gathering and discarding fallen leaves and dead flower heads is an autumn tradition that many homeowners do not look forward to. Thankfully, a wildlife-friendly approach to fall cleanup can benefit local animals and save homeowners the hassle of fall cleanup. For example, insect-eating birds can survive an entire winter by consuming insects that spend their winters on dead plant stems. Homeowners can speak with a local lawn and garden center to determine wildlife-friendly ways to approach fall cleanup in their yards.

· Volunteer with local environmental organizations. Local environmental organizations are always in need of some helping hands, and these groups do tremendous work to protect and restore local ecosystems. Organizations may sponsor a host of programs that can benefit local wildlife, such as beach cleanups, invasive plant removal projects and native plant planting days.

Taking steps to protect local wildlife can be a great way to restore local ecosystems and wildlife populations.

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March 3, 1931, President Hoover signed a Congressional Act making The Star Spangled Banner the National Anthem of the United States. Although, in 1916, Woodrow Wilson first recognized it as the National Anthem.

Star Spangled Banner Fun Facts

• The melody is an old English drinking song.

• It was written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key as a poem.

• It was written after a battle in the War of 1812.

• The War of 1812 lasted three years.

• The word “Spangle” means decorated with sequins, beads, jewels or other ornaments. For the United States flag, the stars are what makes it spangled.

• There are four stanzas, a fifth stanza was added during the Civil War.

• On September 12, 2001 it was played during the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace to show support for America.

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Nineteen months after her 1880 birth, Helen Keller contracted scarlet fever–or bacterial meningitis—which left her blind, deaf and mute. Her parents sought help from Alexander Graham Bell, who was known for his invention of the telephone, but—also—his celebrated work educating the deaf. He introduced the Keller family to the Perkins Institution– it trained people afflicted with “deafblindness”—and–facilitated the family’s hiring of 20-year-old Annie Sullivan, one of its special needs’ teachers.

   Keller was a stubborn student, but Sullivan was an equally determined teacher. She “spelled” words in Keller’s palm–a difficult, and monotonous process–but Sullivan “got through” to Helen—within a few months when Keller felt the water flowing from a pump, and “remembered.”

   Helen and Teacher stayed together from March 3,1887, until Sullivan’s 1936 death.

  According to History.com, Keller went on to learn how to read, write and speak. With Sullivan’s assistance, her student attended Radcliffe College, graduated with honors, became a public speaker and published her first book, “The Story of My Life” in 1903.

  For more information about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Helen Keller: Humanitarian by Lois P. Nicholson.

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1905 – the US Forest Service is formed.

The value of spending time outdoors extends well beyond dusting off winter cabin fever, providing long-term benefits that might surprise even the most ardent outdoor enthusiast. A 2018 report from researchers at the University of East Anglia found that living close to nature and spending time outside has wide-ranging health benefits, including a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. Authors of the report studied data from across the globe, gathering evidence from more than 140 studies involving more than 290 million people.

Researchers cannot pinpoint exactly why people who spend ample time in greenspaces enjoy better health. However, the benefits appear to be so wide-ranging as to suggest that people who currently do not spend much time in greenspaces should make a concerted effort to do so. The following are a handful of ways busy individuals can start spending more time outdoors.

· Dine al fresco. On nights when the weather is fair, take dinner into the great outdoors. People who live in private homes can dine on the patio or on the deck in the backyard, while apartment dwellers can make use of local parks for nighttime picnics or dine on balconies or rooftop recreational areas, which have become popular in crowded metropolitan areas. Rooftops and balconies may not pass the “Is it greenspace?” test, but dining in such areas can be more relaxing than an apartment dining nook.

· Get off the couch. Don’t hesitate to get outside when night falls. Spend time in the backyard or go for nightly walks around the neighborhood or in a nearby park. Say so long to television binging sessions, making healthier and more beneficial use of nightly free time by utilizing nearby greenspaces.

· Go hiking on weekends. Even city dwellers no doubt live within driving distance of local hiking areas. Hiking provides a host of cardiovascular benefits and can make for a great, full-body workout. Researchers associated with the UEA report suggested that the practice of forest bathing, which is popular in Japan and promotes spending time sitting down or lying in nature, exposes people to a diverse array of bacteria present in natural areas that may benefit the immune system and reduce inflammation.

People who think that accessing nature is helping them to stay healthy aren’t wrong. In fact, making time to include nature in your daily or weekly routine can have positive and wide-ranging effects on your overall health