National Wildlife Federation® certifies all six CPCC campuses as wildlife habitats

last modified May 13, 2009 07:35 AM

The National Wildlife Federation® (NWF) has certified all six Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) campuses as Certified Wildlife Habitat™ sites. This accomplishment makes CPCC the first multi-campus community college in the country to certify the grounds of all its campus locations. CPCC’s Presidential Cabinet awarded its Center for Sustainability six, $2,000 innovation grants to help each campus create and maintain its own unique wildlife habitat. The College’s innovation grants reward campus units for developing programs that facilitate improvement, change or growth across various areas of its internal community.

“We commend CPCC for accomplishing what few, if any, community college in the country has been able to do,” said Roxanne Nersesian Paul, senior coordinator for habitat programs with the National Wildlife Federation®. “It is a challenge to get just one campus certified; so for CPCC to earn accreditation at all six campuses is a testament to not only its students, but also the quality faculty and staff members it employs.”

College officials began working towards this goal in 2007, drafting grant proposals that would meet the NWF’s standards, and organizing habitat teams to spearhead the initiative on each campus. To become a Certified Wildlife Habitat™, spaces must include four essential elements: food, water, cover and places to raise young. Over the past two years, the CPCC community has collaborated to reach this goal on all six campuses; CPCC’s Harper Campus, became the sixth, and final campus to receive certification in March 2009.

“The campus community’s response to these projects has been extraordinary,” said Ernie McLaney, program coordinator for CPCC’s Center for Sustainability and a NWF steward. “Habitat teams comprised

of representatives from the College’s facilities, student life, faculty and student populations have led the charge, creating low-maintenance wildlife habitats that can be enjoyed by the Charlotte community and its wildlife inhabitants.”

 The wildlife habitats at all six CPCC campuses were designed by Randy Sigg, a landscape design instructor at the CPCC-Cato Campus. Students enrolled in the College’s Horticulture program applied their skills and knowledge to the spaces as well, ensuring each habitat included indigenous wildlife that would attract native species.

“This initiative has acted as a service learning project for our students, giving them the opportunity to learn more about sustainable landscape practices and how to create spaces that work,” said McLaney. “Our new habitats give us an innovative way to teach and prepare our students – outside of the classroom – for careers in the horticulture, environmental or biodiversity fields.”


Going forward, the wildlife habitats will be maintained by each campus’s habitat team. While achieving certification at all six campus locations is a significant achievement, CPCC officials plan to apply for innovation grants in the coming months that will include designs for outdoor classrooms and fountains. “We want the CPCC and Charlotte communities to enjoy the area’s landscape and our wildlife habitats accomplish this goal,” adds McLaney. “By exposing the community’s residents to these spaces, we increase the likelihood that they will become inspired to develop similar habitats at home and in business, creating a ‘healthier’ and more environmentally friendly Charlotte.”

Adds Tim Gestwicki, executive director for North Carolina Wildlife Federation, “The certified sites at CPCC’s campuses will be an inspiration to other higher education sites across the country. We encourage the CPCC community to keep up the good work and continue to set the standard in environmental sustainability.”

For more information on CPCC’s Center for Sustainability and certified wildlife habitats, or to view habitat photos, visit

Central Piedmont Community College is the largest community college in North Carolina, offering close to 300 degree and certification programs, customized corporate training, market-focused continuing education, and special interest classes. CPCC is academically, financially and geographically accessible to all citizens of Mecklenburg County. In 2002, the National Alliance of Business named CPCC the Community College of the Year for its response to the workforce and technology needs of local employers and job seekers through innovative educational and training strategies.



This release prepared by Mallory Benz, 704.330.6613. An archive of CPCC news releases is at