Armed with shovels, 25 Front Range Community College students and three retirees descended upon the Fort Collins Senior Center this fall. Their goal: to turn a patio into bird habitat.

As Colorado grows, wildlife habitat is decreasing, but communities can do a lot to become more wildlife-friendly.

A Network of Habitat Patches

This is the idea behind Habitat Hero, a core program of Audubon Rockies, which is a regional office of the National Audubon Society. By planting native gardens across Colorado and Wyoming, volunteers for this program are weaving together a network of habitat patches for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife.

The volunteers at the Senior Center—who were part of the FRCC Forestry, Wildlife, and Natural Resources program and the City of Fort Collin’s Building on Outdoor Trail Stewardship (BOOTS) program—were working with Audubon and the city to create a garden with 13 native species of plants. Thanks to their efforts, Fort Collins now has a little more wildlife habitat.

Less Water, No Chemicals

Wildlife aren’t the only beneficiaries. The plants—which are adapted to Colorado’s environment—require less water and no chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

“The goal of the Habitat Hero garden was multifaceted,” said Sue Schafer, recreation coordinator for the City of Fort Collins recreation department. “First, we wanted to provide additional habitat for birds and insects in the area. Secondly, we understand the healing powers of nature and wanted to provide more green space to the Senior Center patrons.”

Container Garden Works Most Anywhere

To meet the requirements of the center, the Habitat Heroes pulled off the challenge of planting a garden without any garden beds, or even soil. Instead, they nestled the native plants into containers filled with a plant-based medium donated by Fort Collins Nursery.

“This container garden shows that you create a place for wildlife just about anywhere,” said Alison Holloran, executive director of Audubon Rockies.

Foundation Funding

This garden was made possible by funding from the Xcel Energy Foundation.

“The success of our company is directly related to the health of our communities and the health of our pollinator habitats,” said Kynnie Martin, senior foundation representative at Xcel Energy. “Through our foundation grants we are proud to support the fight to save our pollinators by funding programs like Habitat Hero.”

Coloradans interested in becoming Habitat Heroes can do so by visiting or emailing

About Audubon Rockies

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon Rockies is the regional office for Wyoming and Colorado. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn how to help at and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at @audubonrockies.

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