Birder's Guide

MAY 2014

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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17 May 2014 | Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community Jen Brumfeld: Inner-City Kids' Adventures –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Bird illustrator and birding tour guide Jen Brumfeld is changing the lives and hearts of inner-city kids in Cleveland, Ohio, by introducing them to nature. Urbanites, especially children, are often cut off from the natural world. With few experiences in natural environments— and, at best, only a tiny yard with a few pigeons or starlings nearby—city kids rely on TV and movie images that make nature seem terrifying, bizarre, or even UNnatural. "That many urban dwellers are far and away disconnected from nature is not news," Brumfeld says. "But it's mostly only being talked about, unless you're on the front lines of outdoor education." Suburbanites may have some connection with nature—they may go to local parks or take an occasional hike—but inner- city kids are typically nervous or even terrifed to walk in the woods. That's why Brumfeld, who works for Cleveland Me- troparks Outdoor Experiences, takes inner-city kids on week- end nature hikes and outings. For the kids, she says, it is a completely surreal experience. "There comes a moment when their eyes ignite, and they no longer have fear," she says. "From then on it's all about fun, discovery, and sheer awe. Getting to spend time not just in nature, but with someone who is head-over-heels excited about the natural world and wants to share that with them, makes them feel invited, special, and 'lucky'." Brumfeld believes it's important to focus on diversity within even an urban landscape. She encourages kids to keep their eyes wide open. "I don't expect these kids to become avid birders," she says. "I don't expect anything from them other than respect for one another. But I know that some- thing changes in their hearts. And that when the time comes, they'll refect on their positive experiences and be far more inclined to heartily support con- servation with their voices, their votes, and their efforts." Many people who have accompanied Brumfeld on the nature outings contact her later, asking how to volunteer, how they can help, where they can donate, and how they can tap into more experi- ences, with more depth and knowledge. At the end of the day, she says, "people are hungry—longing, even—to connect to the natural world." Want to get involved? Brumfeld would love to hear from you. Contact her at elfn_skimmer@hotmail.com. Judy Pollock: Migratory Makeovers –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Judy Pollock is helping to provide much-needed food and shelter for birds migrating through Chicago. As Bird Conservation Coordinator for Chicago Audubon and a founder of the Chicago Migratory Bird Alliance, Pollock has helped organize a series of "Migratory Makeovers" on Chicago's south side. She works with community organiza- tions, schools, and public agencies to plant shrubs and understory plants in campuses, parks, unused land, or other landscaped or natural areas where land- owners are willing to cooperate. The Migratory Bird Alliance's grassroots projects not only pro- vide friendly habitat for birds during the migration season, but also mobilize the local com- munity to promote conservation and supply welcome employ- ment opportunities. Projects With a yard that attracts 177 species of birds, Don Kienholz (left) and Seth House have reason to smile. Photo © Seth House Jen Brumfeld introduces inner-city kids to the wonders of nature, including this box turtle. Photo © Joe Yachanin Don Kienholz and Seth House enjoy gardening, and have turned their 10-acre yard north of Duluth, Minnesota, into a paradise for birds. Photo © Don Kienholz 2-Conservation Milestones.indd 17 5/22/14 7:34 PM

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