06/25/11 — Couple's efforts earn their yard national wildlife certification

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Couple's efforts earn their yard national wildlife certification

By Emmett Strickland
Published in News on June 25, 2011 11:44 PM

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Jack and Sherry Frye discuss their efforts to turn their yard into a sanctuary for wildlife.

Goldsboro newcomers Sherry and Jack Frye only recently moved from Charlotte into their new home on Woodcroft Drive, but they have already succeeded not only in beautifying their new yard, but also in getting it officially recognized as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.

The federation's Certified Wildlife Habitat Program was founded in 1973 as an incentive for homeowners, gardeners, and business owners to help combat the loss of wildlife habitat by making their property more supportive of wildlife through planting vegetation that provides food and cover, along with creating water sources and places for birds and animals to construct homes.

The designation is tough to earn. Since its inception, the program has certified nearly 150,000 yards and gardens across the nation which fulfill the requirements of providing birds, animals and other wild animals with food, water, shelter and a safe place to raise their young.

The Fryes are passionate environmentalists. Mrs. Frye is a member of the National Wildlife Federation, while her husband works as the director of aircraft maintenance for the North Carolina Forest Service.

When they began landscaping their new yard this spring, they planted several varieties of saplings and a peach tree, as well as numerous vegetables, herbs and nectar-producing flowers that serve as food source for a wide range of creatures, especially butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

At the same time, a set of bird houses installed around the yard give different varieties of birds places to nest. Currently, Mrs. Frye said,several are already serving as homes to broods of nestlings.

Although the Frye's yard does not contain a natural body of water, they have been able to fulfill the foundation's requirement for a water source by erecting several miniature birdbaths, which they constructed themselves using old kitchen plates and PVC pipe.

When the couple began their project, they were unsure that earning their certification from the National Wildlife Federation would be feasible because their yard was, as Mrs. Frye said, "a blank slate" with very little in the way of habitat for wildlife. However, through hard work and careful planning, they found that they could find the items needed to create and maintain a certified wildlife habitat, and even to do it affordably.

"You don't need to have a large budget" to carry out a similar project, Mrs. Frye said. "Everything we buy, we try to buy clearance, discount."

She said the couple "always try to get the sad plants that most people think have no hope." This not only allows them to buy plants at a low price, but it also keeps plants on clearance from being wasted. The couple even dries and stores the seeds produced from their Chinese five-color pepper plant, eliminating the need to buy new seeds when it comes time to replace the plant.

Frye said his wife was the mastermind behind the project, saying "I just help a little bit with the digging and things like that," but his wife insisted that getting their yard in shape to become certified as a wildlife habitat was a team effort.

She also added that although the project appealed to her environmentalist ideals, the landscaping was driven largely by her artistic interests. She enjoys photography and has even made cross-stitchings which will be featured in an upcoming show in Holly Springs.

But what the couple seems to enjoy most about their new, wildlife-friendly yard is the natural beauty it has brought to their home.

"It's been such a blessing for us because you can just sit outside at night and listen to the humming birds," Mrs. Frye said, something they said they would never have had the opportunity to do at their home in Charlotte.