SC Wildlife Federation to Increase Focus on Enhancing Natural Habitats

The South Carolina Wildlife Federation (SCWF) has named Jay Keck as their new Habitat Education Manager. In this role, he will plan, coordinate, implement and oversee education programs designed to encourage the creation or enhancement of wildlife habitat in backyards, parks, schoolyards, and business property.

Growing up on Lake Murray, Jay has always enjoyed wildlife and the outdoors. After graduating from the College of Charleston in 2000, he worked in the private sector but always maintained a connection to the outdoors. His life took an unexpected turn in the summer of 2012 when he saw a Baltimore oriole for the first time. Since then, he spends most of his free time birding, learning about birds, and studying their various habitat needs. During the spring of 2014, he attended his first SCWF event. Being inspired by SCWF's mission, he earned his Palmetto Pro Birder certification, and has led bird walks for SCWF as well as Saluda Shoals Park, Columbia Audubon, and private organizations. He has a passion and love for wildlife and hopes to inspire others to take a look at the life within our amazing planet.

Jay will be working with homeowners to enhance wildlife habitat, as well as partners at other places throughout SC communities including schools, churches, libraries, parks and businesses. There are four basic ingredients to turn any landscape into a productive wildlife habitat: year-round food source; water, especially during periods of droughts and hard freezes; cover where animals can hide from weather and predators; and safe places to raise young. The SCWF has certified more than 8,500 Certified Wildlife Habitats in South Carolina making it one of the top states in the nation in the number of certified sites per capita.

Jay has a special interest in expanding the SCWF’s Wildlife And Industry Together (WAIT) program. WAIT is designed to encourage corporate landowners to integrate wildlife habitat needs into corporate land management decisions. As South Carolina becomes increasingly developed, there is less land available for wildlife. Corporate landowners can offset habitat loss by devoting their under-utilized lands to wildlife. Lonza-Capsugel in Greenwood recently joined the SCWF’s list of WAIT partners, which also includes industries such as BMW Manufacturing, Michelin, Honda South Carolina, 3M, and many others. In total, there are 30 WAIT certified properties across the state that are benefiting wildlife in SC - that's 30 sites providing a habitat for birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles, while at the same time producing oxygen and stabilizing the soil! Our focus on promoting the use of native plants on these properties will help create a network of areas that can be used by pollinators, including butterflies, and many other insects that support the ecosystem and biodiversity of the property.

“Jay’s experience and passion will be a great asset to our team,” said Sara Green, SCWF Director of Education. “He looks forward to connecting people of all ages with SC’s wildlife and finding ways we can all work together for wildlife conservation.”

You can contact Jay to find out more about how you can attract birds, butterflies, and other wildlife to your yard and your community, at: jay@scwf.org or (803) 256-0670. The mission of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation is to conserve and restore South Carolina’s wildlife and wildlife habitat through education and advocacy. For more information, please visit our website at: www.scwf.org.