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Wild Birds Unlimited Awards the Friend to the Environment Award

In its continued effort to honor franchisees that embody the brand’s mission, Wild Birds Unlimited takes the time to recognize one of their own.

By Madeline LenaStaff Writer
SPONSORED 12:12PM 08/02/18

Wild Birds Unlimited bestows its Friend to the Environment Award upon the franchisee who best exemplifies the brand’s mission of bringing people and nature together. There have been 26 recipients of the award over the years. This year’s winner is Barbara Haralson, a franchisee whose passion and drive have established her as force for good in her Greensboro, North Carolina community.

When detailing Haralson’s roster of accomplishments, John Schaust, Wild Birds Unlimited’s Chief Naturalist, emphasized how her heart and mind have helped her evolve into an outstanding business leader. Haralson plays an integral role in the development and support of Greensboro’s conservation and nature education efforts. “She has donated her time and substantial resources toward supporting numerous local organizations, creating programs and events that have helped to educate her customers about birds and conservation,” Schaust said.

Motivated by her understanding of the peace and comfort that watching birds can bring to loved ones as they provide love and care for someone at the end of life, Haralson has maintained a 15-year relationship with the Hospice and Palliative Care Organization of Greensboro. With the help of her annual bird feeder swap event, she provides feeders for all patients, donating bird food, field guides and other needed items to the hospital as a memorial for those who have passed away. Haralson also leads grief share workshops for children and families who have experienced loss, during which Haralson shares her knowledge and passion for bluebirds while participants build and decorate take-home bluebird houses. “The kindness Barbara has shown has had a profound effect on those she has met while supporting Hospice and many have since adopted the hobby and are now her customers. Thus confirming her long-standing belief that when you give from a genuine heart, it always comes back to you in larger doses,“ Schaust said.

Schaust aptly dubbed Haralson a “citizen scientist” thanks to her involvement in numerous local conservation organizations. She serves as a bird watcher for Project FeederWatch and the Great Backyard Bird Count in addition to volunteering with Neighborhood Nestwatch and Candid Critters, providing monthly reports on wildlife activity in the area. An insatiable curiosity and desire to inspire younger generations led Haralson to team up with her local public library to develop environmentally-focused nature programs, including an annual Earth Day festival and a Young Birders Club.

Haralson’s passion for education is further evident in the frequent opportunities she provides in-store. She has brought in live birds of prey, invited wildlife rehabilitation groups, and even hosted a viewing party for last year’s solar eclipse. “My favorite in-store event Barbara put on was ‘The Last Straw,’ which focused on the environmental impact of plastic and its effect on birds and other animals,” Schaust said. Prior to the event, Barbara and her store manager toured the local recycling facility, transfer station and landfill to learn about the importance of recycling and the need to increase participation rates in the Greensboro area. Her Wild Birds Unlimited store was filled with displays about recycling and filled with local experts. As a result, more than 130 people signed a pledge agreeing to refuse single-use plastic straws. In exchange for their pledge, customers received a free reusable stainless-steel straw.

Interacting with community partners has established Haralson as a foremost authority in Greensboro on all things conservation. Tori Carle, Waste Reduction Supervisor for the City of Greensboro, was one of many to tout the massive impact that Haralson and her store are having in the Greensboro area. “Barbara’s personal stewardship and leadership has grown a movement that I believe is making Greensboro a better place to live, work, shop, play and, of course, bird watch.”

With more than 300 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, Wild Birds Unlimited is the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores. Recently ranked No. 2 overall and No. 1 in the Retail category on Franchise Business Review’s prestigious 2018 Franchisee Satisfaction Awards, there's no better time to join the Wild Birds Unlimited team. Click here to learn more. 

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.