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 Bird Conservation Through Education TM

September 28, 2011

In This Issue
Essentials for Reaching Diverse Audiences Part V: Colleagues
A Focus on Diversity in City of Brotherly Love
A Focus on Diversity in City of Brotherly Love
Public Lands Day
Thanks to our BEN Bulletin sponsor:
 
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BEN
    
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The Bird Education Network (BEN) was created following the February 2007 National Gathering, hosted by the Council for Environmental Education (CEE). BEN is a CEE initiative that seeks to connect and support a community of bird education professionals.

 

Over 3,000 individuals representing 300 organizations receive communications and engage in professional dialogue through the BEN-run Bird Education Listserv. 

 

A BEN Committee has been established to provide advice and guidance for this important initiative, to advance "bird conservation through education."




Quick Links
Essentials for Reaching Diverse Audiences through Birds Part VII: Conclusions, Lessons, Next Steps
by Paul J. Baicich  & Dave Magpiong
Birders in Central Park
The 'usual suspects' at Central Park in NYC. Photograph by Ralph Hockens  
 

The previous five installments of this seven-part series described the five essential ingredients to begin to reach a diverse constituency for birds and their habitats:

 

Opportunity

Colleagues
Ongoing support

 

Ideally, all five considerations should be used in combination to be effective in successfully reaching communities of diversity and in building an interest in birds.

 

To avoid becoming marginalized, if not simply irrelevant, bird education and bird conservation must embrace a diversified outreach strategy, on which can address and engage diverse and under-served constituencies.

 

This is not a question of "political correctness." Rather, it is an issue of simple survival. If bird conservation - or environmentalism as a whole - does not "look like America", then it will fail miserably as we get deeper into the 21st century.

 

Today, we are witnessing the most significant assault on bird conservation in our lifetimes - a crisis of poor funding, insufficient awareness, and an utter lack of political will. It is inadequate to rely, once again, on the "usual advocates and supporters" already committed to the cause. Furthermore, vaguely pointing to the broad American interest in birds and birding will simply not cut it. The sobering reality is that while bird interest may be broad, it is insufficiently deep for most people.

 

This is where reaching communities of diversity comes in.

 

Strategies for engaging communities of diversity may require more of the "right types" of nature exposure, or entirely different approaches to ethnic or socioeconomic groups who are not currently likely to engage in outdoor activities. It will require the five ingredients outlined in the past five issues of the BEN Bulletin and mentioned above.

 

People need the opportunity to discover and interact with birds and nature. Repeated trips outdoors and exposure to birds will serve to further their appreciation of and familiarity with the natural world. Given all the skills involved with finding and identifying birds, relevant mentors (usually experienced adults) are critical to successfully "raising" a new birder, young or old. Colleagues, or birding buddies, of the same age, race, or other characteristic increases the comfort level of these activities and provides a more enjoyable field experience, which in turn increases the likelihood of "repeat customers." Finally, our birders-to-be need ongoing support - financial, institutional, organizational - to keep their interest alive, to continue learning about birds and their conservation needs, and to become full-fledged stewards of birds and nature.

 

Refuges, parks, museums, zoos, nature centers, clubs, and festivals can all have roles to play in addressing the problems at hand.

 

Ultimately, the fate of birdlife, biodiversity, and intact ecosystems may depend less on rates of habitat loss or invasive species, less on the best and most biologically accurate "bird conservation plans," and more on public perception of whether conservation in general, or bird conservation in particular, should be supported at all!

 

It's time to engage in actions to make a difference.

 

Are we bird educators ready for the challenge?

Send in Your Registration for the Diversity Conference        

diversity conf coverOn October 22nd, the Focus on Diversity: Changing the Face of American Birding Conference at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia, PA will bring together dedicated bird educators from the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Region. Participants will leave the conference with resources and action plans to make an immediate difference in their own areas. Will you be there to make a difference?

 

Registration deadline is October 8th.

 

Registration materials are available online by clicking here.   

BirdStars Invites All Birders  & Bird Educators to Purchase Federal Migratory Bird Conservation Stamps
"Double Up for the Birds" - Campaign Shows Congress that Birders Support Stamp Price Increase 
       

birdstars logoThe BirdStars consortium of leading birding and conservation organizations invites all birders to "double up for the birds" by purchasing not one, but two federal conservation stamps in 2011-2012.
 
This federal stamp program has been an important tool in habitat conservation for 77 years, but its ability to purchase and conserve important wild bird habitat has been greatly diminished by inflation and rising land prices. The purpose of the "Double Up for the Birds" campaign is to demonstrate to Congress that birders strongly support the program and are willing to pay more for the stamp in order to conserve bird habitat. These special stamps are available at US Post Offices everywhere.
 
This effort is part of a larger campaign led by Ducks Unlimited to increase the price of the federal conservation stamp. Since 1934, the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp has added more than 5.3 million acres of waterfowl habitat in all 50 states to the National Wildlife Refuge System. The program is a highly efficient way for birding enthusiasts to invest in the future of their hobby by conserving habitat. In fact, 98 cents out of every dollar is spent to acquire land and protect habitat.
 
While the federal stamp has proved a valuable conservation tool, its buying power has not kept pace with inflation. The cost of the stamp has not increased since 1991, marking the longest period in the program's history without a price increase. Simply put, $15 is not what it used to be:
  •  Based on the Consumer Price Index, the stamp should cost $24.26 today to have the same buying power that $15 had in 1991.
  • The total buying power of the stamp has decreased by 64 percent since 1991.
  • In 1991, revenue from the stamp enabled the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to acquire 89,000 acres of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System at an average cost of $306 per acre.
In 2010, the USFWS was able to acquire only 32,000 acres because land values had tripled to an average of $1,091 per acre. BirdStars supports these efforts to ensure that the investment made to protect birding habitat over the last 77 years is sustained into the future. It is up to conservationists and all who enjoy wetlands and birding to continue the conservation legacy of the federal stamp program. For these reasons, BirdStars supports legislation to immediately increase the price of the stamp from $15 to $25 to allow the program's revenues to keep pace with inflation.
 
Increasing the price of the stamp takes an act of Congress so to encourage Congress to act, birders and other conservationists must show elected officials that their constituents care about conservation issues. Increased sales that occur when conservationists 'double up' on stamps purchased will conserve more habitat and show Congress that birders and other conservationists are committed to this issue.
 
Contact: George Petrides, Sr. at (301) 841-6404 or george@wildbird.com.

  

Public Lands Day Presents Volunteer and Bird Education Opportunities       

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) was September 24th! It's a day when volunteers were able to give their time and energy to improve and enhance the public lands we use and enjoy. This year, NPLD ran in tandem with the "Let's Move" efforts, connected with First Lady Michelle Obama's call for healthy childhood activity.  

 

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) usually oversees this volunteer effort that involves tens of thousands of volunteers. And this year, the US Public Health Service assisted in delivering information on the benefits of getting outdoors and moving. 

This combination, promoting volunteerism as a healthy activity, has been designed to encourage individual site managers to host and/or promote recreational activities such as nature hikes, runs, bike rides, and other physical activities. Of course, the healthy features of outdoor bird education can always play a role, and should do so in the years to come.

For more information visit www.publiclandsday.org.

  

BEN: Connecting Bird Educators TM
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Newsletter maintained by: The Council for Environmental Education, Flying WILD and the BEN Committee.