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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Botanical, Horticultural & Landscape Services, Education, Environment, Environmental Education

Mission: Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities. Wild Ones is a not-for-profit environmental education and advocacy organization.

Target demographics: the environment.

Direct beneficiaries per year: people learn about saving the Monarch butterflies.

Geographic areas served: the USA

Programs: Seeds for Education Grant Program which gives grants to schools, churches, scout troops, etc. to learn about native plants and natural landscaping. We have over 50 chapters across the country working locally to educate and advocate the use of native plants and natural landscaping.

Community Stories

20 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

Having been involved with WO since 2002, I would recommend this group to anyone interested in wildlife, outdoors, plants and environment. Our local chapter invites speakers to share their vast knowledge in the fields of history, geology, plants, insects, amphibians and more as well as their personal and/or professional lives in the field of restoration, botany, propagation and our natural world. WO is an organization that invites all to attend meetings and become more involved in gardening, learning vast amounts of information on preservation and restoration of our environmental resources. WO is a strong and growing group of interested public, professionals and organizations that promote native plants for a healthier earth with a solid foundation of knowledgeable and committed people voluntarily running the entire group. Good group, good mission, great people!

Previous Stories


Rating: 5

I started this chapter in 2003 as the Maumee Valley Chapter (now Oak Openings Chapter). I have much experience and knowledge about native ecosystems and native flora. I provide chapter members with free plants/seeds and invite everyone I know to attend meetings.



Rating: 5

I've been a Wild Ones member since 2004 and a board member of my local chapter in Minnesota since 2006. I've attended national events and meetings of the national board, as well as frequent local events and meetings. I am singularly impressed with the dedication of our national and local (volunteer) leaders, and with the staff at our national office. Here in Minnesota, Wild Ones has become the primary organizational advocate for landscaping with native plants. Monthly chapter presentations and field trips, and an annual day-long "Design With Nature Conference" have attracted widespread public interest and national speakers. Our efforts here in Minnesota are built on the support and encouragement of the national organization. I'm especially impressed with the quality of our national board of directors and their work in developing the organization and pursuing our mission. I'm pleased to be a regular donor as well as a member.



Rating: 5

I have been a naturalist/outdoor educator for over 26 years and have a interest in teaching people about the environmental, economic and aesthetic benefits of nautral landscaping. Discovering Wild Ones was one of the best partnerships I could have ever asked for! I started a chapter at my nature center and have represented them in many public forums. I like that Wild Ones is really an environmental advocacy group but shares the message of earth care through home and community landscaping practices. Wild Ones understands, honors and advocates for our native flora. They offer sound information and advice. The national office staff as well as volunteers involved with chapters are a wealth of knowledge and always willing to offer help. As Audubon is to birds, Wild Ones is to natural landscaping!

Board Member

Rating: 1

Wild Ones
PO Box 1274
Appleton, WI 54912-1274

Re: Cease and Desist and Retraction
Issuance of a Printed Journal and Digital E-Newsletter Retraction,
as it pertains to Michelle Vanstrom’s Lifetime Membership Status

To the Wild Ones Executive Board Officers, National Board Members, and Honorary Board Members:

I have in my possession theSeptember/October/November/December 2011 issue of The Journal. Inside it is a blue, six-page leaflet titled, “Members Support Wild Ones Mission with Generous Gifts & Contributions."

On page 5, I am listed as a Wild Ones Lifetime member.

Remove my name.

As of 20 August 2011, I ceased to be a member of your odious organization and you have no right to state or indicate in any manner that I am. (Motion attached. Note the final sentence: "That Michelle Vanstrom be removed from the Board of Directors under Article IV, Section 10 and under Article IV, Section 2, only members may serve as a Director."

Wild Ones is to issue a printed retraction and digital retraction (via the January/February 2012 issue of The Journal and the E-newsletter), sending both to the entire Wild Ones’ database. You are to state you listed me as a Lifetime member knowing it was false since my membership ceased on 20 August 2011.

As a Board, and despite the fact I easily documented otherwise, you believed every blatant lie [National Board member] Bret Rappaport made about me, my involvement with the Regional Economic Growth Through Ecological Restoration of the Niagara Gorge Rim project, and the whereabouts of the Niagara River Greenway Ecological Standing Committee Grant Funds (92,000.00) during the 20 August 2011 Annual Meeting.

The Executive Officers, The National Board, and the Honorary Board Members chose not to support one of its largest chapters (Wild Ones Niagara Falls and River Region Chapter) and a peer National Board Member.

Instead, the National Board and Executive Officers chose to support a non-performing consultant, EDR—one that has been documented as having a clear project conflict of interest, was not performing per its contractual obligations, and was violating the terms of its Contract.

The Wild Ones organization owes me thousands. I will be remitting a statement and expecting a full reimbursement.

Summary: [1]. Issue the printed retraction in the next mailing of The Journal and indicate clearly your organization listed me as a Lifetime member knowing it was false. [2]. Send a copy of that printed issue to my home. [3]. Within two weeks, issue a digital retraction via the electronic E-newsletter to the entire Wild Ones database—stating your organization listed me as a Lifetime member knowing it was false.
[4]. Copy me

Michelle Vanstrom
former National Board Member,
former Lifetime Member,
former 10 year member,
founder and former President: Wild Ones Niagara Falls and River Region Chapter - Niagara Falls
founder and former President: Niagara Frontier Wildlife Habitat Chapter - Niagara Falls

cc: Bob Michalak, Michalak and Dobson

NOTEs: This is not an organization that supports its chapters. In fact, in letter form they denied all chapters exist and sent that to a Niagara County grant funder - The Niagara River Greenway Ecological Standing Committee.

The majority of the reviews here are from the national board members: Tim Lewis,President; Joe Powelka, Treasurer; Kat Trina, M. Rice, Vice President; Steve Roselle, Secretary; Donna VanBuecken, Ex. Director; and others.


Rating: 5

Wild Ones is one of the very best of the ecological/green organizations, with a clear mission, good people (volunteers and staff alike), and a compelling message. I've belonged for about 10 years, and recently became an officer in our (newly-renovated) chapter, which has put me in touch with many of the national officers and staff. Wow to each of them. I look forward to working with this group for many, many years to come.



Rating: 1

WildOnes is one of the worst organizations I have volunteered for, unfortunately. The National office has de-chartered a local chapter out of fear of a lawsuit. This local chapter, formerly the Niagara Falls River Chapter, was a growing and vibrant chapter and had contracted with a consulting company to create a written and simulated video presentation of what the Niagara River gorge might look like if restored to ecological diversity and a nature park -- seemingly a perfect project for WildOnes. Granted, any tech-savvy teenager might have been able to create a simulated video like this, but we wanted a professional environmental consulting firm to put its stamp of quality on the WildOnes name. However, the consulting company failed miserably, dragging its feet and not doing its work or following its own timeline. The National office became upset with the local chapter because: 1) in direct response to our not paying the consulting company for work they were bound by contract to complete, but did not (their uncompleted work falls into two categories: a) work not completed at all, and, b) work unsatisfactorily performed), and 2) to our refusal to voluntarily turn over the remaining grant funds provided us by the a regional greenway commission to National. Instead of National helping to pressure the consulting company to complete the work which they wrote in their own company contract, they de-chartered us and accused us of holding onto monies that were not ours. Our bank accounts were then frozen by National and the design project was taken over by National.

We note the following:
1) We do not regard the funds in question to "belong" to either our Chapter nor to National. They were to be held in trust for those of this region to accomplish goals set forth in proposal and contract for which our local Chapter was made an intermediate steward.
2) National Wild Ones, fearful of the "controversy" and consequences of the contractor not being paid, will quickly transfer the funds to the consultants regardless of the product produced.
3) National is unqualified to determine whether or not the contract goals, in substance and spirit, have been met by the consulting company.
4) National has indicated their lack of qualifications in this regard by attempting to pass off these responsibilities to two others (e.g., a greenway Commission and city government). To our knowledge, both have declined to take on that responsibility.
5) The consulting company has on-going contracts with the state and the city which compete with the goals of the ecological restoration of the river gorge and they did not disclose this until recently. These appear to be conflicts of interest which National is acquiescing to.

We are deeply disappointed in National's failure to support our Chapter re this matter, and its moving instead toward discrediting us with such language as "for actions unbecoming" and "insubordination" more fitting to a military tribunal than eliminating differences between those united in a common cause. It is now over a year since the consulting company's own timeline said the project would be finished. Since that time the state parks office has shared several of its own proposals for the river gorge rim. The local WildOnes project was originally contracted to be completed before the ones from state parks, so that it could have aided in the environmentally-responsible vision that state parks should but doesn't have. So, even though later this month (October 2011), the consulting company is finally going to share its so-called "completed" project, it is too late for state parks and the public to seriously consider it. We -- as individuals, not as members of WildOnes anymore -- look forward to seeing the results of the project, but overall it is too little too late and the way WildOnes National has dealt with local volunteers has been a huge disappointment.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Wild Ones is uniquely positioned to lead the next phase of the environmental movement. In the past we have focused on preserving grand spaces (Muir), understanding the connectednes (Leopold) and removing pollution. Now we need to focus on the efficiency of these existing and limited lands in their ability to support ecosystems. By focusing on adding native plants we are giving wildlife plantroots support in rebooting the food chain.

In my own case I have been able to bring back a small ecosystem on less than an eighth of an acre in a subdivision of 500 cookie cutter homes. Dragonflies, damselflies, toads and grasshoppers now make their home here My isolated yard is also an island of biodiversity in the midst of a sea of mowed grass, hosting several bird species and dozens of migrating monarch butterflies every year. Possums. owls, hawks and raccoons have visited as well.

Where land has been degraded with invasive monoculture plant species we as an organization are removing these and replacing them with varied native species which nourish the land continuously by alternating their flowering stages. We also educate many people about the greater ability of natives to sequester both carbon and water. Selecting site appropriate native species allows us to mitigate flooding with rain gardens or to select drought tolerant species which reduce the draw of water in parched areas. Whether arid or moist, our advocacy of native plants therefore knows no bounds.

And of course, we are preserving the biodiversity of the seedbank through the sharing of our seeds. In addition, our plant sales put these plants more widely into our communities.

All these efforts of ours work to improve the efficiency of the land by connecting yards to neighboring natural areas and providing nourishing islands for visiting animals. People are unaware that they too have a choice between providing for nature or not providing for nature on their own property. We are the organization that can guide them with our educational and local and personal support. There is no other organization that can accomplish this much.


Rating: 5

I became passionate about landscaping with native plants almost 20 years ago. At that time I lived in Illinois. I looked around for an organization that believed, as I do, that saving and growing native plants was essential to health ecosystems. It was then that I heard about Wild Ones. I was not able to join Wild Ones in Illinois but found a chapter nearby in Kentucky. I am membership chair of that chapter because I want to reach out to others who are seeking the type of education. call ot action and information that Wild Ones provides. A recent series of articles explained how critical native plants were to the entire system - including the very soil that they grow in. There is no other organization like Wild Ones and I am proud to be a member.

Board Member

Rating: 5


Wild Ones Natural Landscapers, Ltd. Is a 30+ year old national non-profit organization with the simple mission of providing advocacy and education on the important role native plants play in our environment.

For those who cherish the birds, butterflies, bees, other pollinators and the environment in general, native plants are a cornerstone in the natural world. Plants, be they flowers, grasses, trees, shrubs, etc. that are non-native to our individual geographic communities cannot dependably provide and sustain the food and shelter needed by the natural world. Want non-toxic air and water? Then native plants are again the answer as they don’t require broad and/or ongoing applications of herbicides, pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

Wild Ones Natural Landscapers provides the hands-on, grass roots information for bringing native plants to your part of the country, whether it be your garden, yard, and/or other public and private sites in your community. Many of our chapters throughout the US have established and maintained native plant demonstration gardens as examples of what can be done with native plantscaping.

Our work to bring youth into the native plant environmental movement is addressed through the ‘Wild Ones’ Seeds For Education Grant program. Through both national and local efforts, we organize and support community efforts to establish natural areas of learning. This program reaches out to youth by annually awarding funds for educational projects using plants native to their individual communities.

My personal experience: on 911 (Sept. 11, 2011) we installed a native garden between our busy urban street and backyard fence. It provided peace and sanity on a tragic day for this country. Several years later we decided to go entirely ‘native’ in our backyard with prairie, savanna and shade plants. It grew lovelier each year as the plantings became more established. Four years later we decided to downsize to a condominium so the house went on the market. In spite of a very volatile real estate market our house sold within months to a couple who instantly fell in love with the backyard (“we bought your backyard, not your house!”). It’s now 4 years later and their favorite place to be is the backyard. (Of course we miss it but have been invited to visit often!)

Your support of Wild Ones Natural Landscaping will help us move forward in our mission of achieving a cleaner, better, healthier and even more beautiful environmental world---and hopefully help other people achieve a wonderful and exciting native yard.

M. Rice, Volunteer and Board member

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a member of Wild Ones since the mid 90's and have learned immensly from the interaction with like-minded individuals. Additionally, I was privledged to meet and get to know Lorrie Otto, a great environmentslist and spiritual leader of Wild Ones for many years. The concept of reaching out from our individual gardens to change the way our nation creates and manages to a more sustainable manner is vital to our success.