Habitat Heroes

Cape Conservation Corps wants to recognize good stewards of the land by highlighting your conservation efforts.  We want to know what steps you have taken to make your landscape wildlife friendly.  We believe even the smallest changes can make a big difference and have a positive impact on the environment. If we decrease our own footprint we can begin to transform the natural world and build positive connections.

Your yards do not to have to be 100% native or completely converted to a nature-friendly landscaping. We are looking for people who are making changes to a more sustainable, healthy habitat for wildlife to flourishEach quarter we will select a Habitat Hero to feature on our website, and Facebook page.   Please nominate yourself or a neighbor as a Habitat Hero for next quarters selection!  Email us at admin@capeconservationcorps.org.

Habitat Hero – September 2018

Melissa Day


Melissa Day and Miriam Ye

Congratulations to the 3rd Habitat Hero winner Melissa Day located on Hillendale Dr on the Little Magothy.  The first thing I saw as I pulled up to her property was the Bay Wise Certified sign and I knew she was doing all the right things to be a Habit Hero.  As I walked around her property, I marveled at the mix of habitats in the yard, there were mature trees creating a shady front area, wetlands, moss patches, grassy area in the back and beautiful gardens teeming with native plants.  A monarch was nectaring on many of those summer blooms; he could have been born right there in her yard as it contains Milkweed, the monarchs only host plant. Melissa was also fortunate to have nesting bluebirds and cardinals in part because the landscaping has all the comforts a nesting pair of birds would  need- food, water sources, shelter, and leaf litter.  Food sources include nectar plants, fruit bearing shrubs, bird feeders and native plants containing soft bodied caterpillars birds require to feed their young.


In addition to the natural water source living on the Little Magothy provides, Melissa provides water in the form of bird baths.  She has placed several nesting boxes in the yard and has many natural areas to act as havens or hideaways.  As she sits in her upstairs she can look out on the yard and observe a wide range of birds making their home or brief visit to her yard.  In addition to the many songbirds, a large variety of water birds including the great blue heron, green heron, egrets, cormorants and even eagles visit her landscape.

Volunteer Boneset

Volunteer Virginia Creeper

Melissa has been doing the hard work of removing non-native and invasive plants from the yards and plans on continuing to remove Rosebushes, Daylilies and English Ivy that are not providing any benefits to the ecosystem and replace them with natives.  She leaves the fallen leaves in place to encourage overwintering insects as well as insect loving birds that will forage in those leaves, including robins, towhees and thrashers.   Other eco-friendly practices in their landscape include composting, mitigating runoff, shunning fertilizers and other chemicals.   Very Bay-Friendly practices!   In addition to continuing to remove invasive plants Melissa plans on adding wetland grasses to her waterfront such as Spartina.  One thing Melissa does in her yard or rather doesn’t do is pulling up “popups”.  There are so many volunteer plants growing in her yard that have appeared naturally.  Instead of mowing them down or yanking them out she allows them to thrive.  I saw Pokeweed, Boneset, St John’s Wort, Tulip Poplar seedlings that have just sprouted on their own thriving in her yard.


On her side yard where drainage and runoff were a problem she has tried to mitigate the problem with PVC drainage system and dense plantings.  She has a beautiful stand of ferns thriving in the moisture. All of these practices lead to a “slow it down, spread it out, and soak it in solution”.

I enjoyed my time in Melissa’s yard and seeing all of the bay friendly landscaping practices she is utilizing and the natural habitats she has created.  Her yard is truly a functioning ecosystem and that makes Melissa Day a Habitat Hero!!




Habitat Hero – July 2018

Patricia & Rod Frederick


Cape Conservation Corps 3rd quarter Habitat Hero award is being presented to Rod & Patricia Frederick on Hilltop Dr.  They have been in the Cape for over 32 years and during that time they have not used any chemicals in their yard, they mulch with the leaves on the property, use compost for planting and replanting.  They have included multi-wat

er sources throughout their yard to provide for birds and other animals.  When they mow they mow high, leaving the grass at least 2”.  They keep their leaves in the wooded areas or where they lie, creating a beautiful leaf litter in which many

 creatures can over-winter.   They allow the dried stalks from their summer plants to remain standing through the winter to provide another habitat for overwintering insects.  They also provide tasty treats for birds and small animals in the spring. They have a beautiful Baptisia australis blue false indigo growing in the middle of a backyard garden, and lovely stands of Onoclea sensibilis sensitive fern (she even shared one with me!). 


Blue False Indigo

Sensitive Fern



In the spring their yard is alive with colorful blooms throughout, attracting the eye of pass-byers and pollinators alike! Patricia and Rod are not only good stewards of their land but they like to share their plants with friends and family so others may reap the benefits of these life sustaining plants! They have had many creatures visit them over the years – deer, raccoon, opossum, black and gray squirrels, numerous birds, butterflies and other pollinators.

Thank you Patricia and Rod for all you do to be a Habitat Hero!

Habitat Hero – April 2018

Laura & Don Schrank

Laura Shrank, CCC and CSC Garden Club member earned her Master Gardener certification last year and has not stopped learning since!  She has attended workshops on native seed collecting, a screening of a the documentary Hometown Habitat, participated in a native plant discussion group with several like-minded conservationists and attends regular meetings of the Master Gardeners. She has turned her knowledge into a model ecosystem—a landscape teeming with native plant species and the wildlife that has co-evolved with those plants.  Of course she claims it is “a work in progress”, with much work ahead of her Laura is certainly headed in the right direction.

She started by removing invasives growing on her property, including English ivy, Oriental bittersweet and Periwinkle (Vinca) to make room for natives shrubs and plants with an emphasis on pollinator friendly perennials.  Laura has added between 60-70 native plant species to her landscape including Vernonia noveboracensis- New York Ironweed, Asclepsias -milkweed, Liatris -blazing star, Physostegia virginiana -obedient plant, Soldiago -goldenrod and Physocarpus opulifolius -nine bark, a beautiful year round interest shrub.  All of these native plants are attracting a variety of native insects and other wildlife.  She is able to keep track of all these beautiful plants with attractive signs she designed using stamped metal attached to a piece of pine.  The tags include the Latin names so she can use them as a science lesson for her home-schooled children (they know the Latin names better than the common names!)

Asclepsias –milkweed

Laura’s yard, along with the support and hard work of her husband Don, earned the Baywise Certification last year because of her commitment to using bay friendly practices.  In addition to removing invasives and replacing them with natives, she has also installed a rain barrel and drip irrigation on her raised vegetable beds to conserve water, cancelled her lawn spraying service, added insulation to the attic to conserve energy, and has been composting food waste to use a valuable additive to her soil.  Don, her husband has been busy building a retaining wall and putting in swales and berms to control soil erosion and retain water on a tricky corner of the property, adding plants that will benefit from these conditions!

With all she accomplished, Laura is still not done.  Her plans this year include adding an additional native plant beds around her mailbox, around the maple tree in the center of the yard, and another on the side of the house.  She is hoping to continue to remove a patch of invasive English ivy behind the retaining area as well as a few other lingering invasive patches.  She started last year by layering on a ton of mulched wood chips to smother those hard to kill vines! Laura’s hard work will continue to payoff as a welcoming habitat for local flora and fauna and benefit our local ecosystem with her conservation choices.  Thanks Laura for being a Habitat Hero!

Monarch emerging

Scroll to top