The goal of this grant, which covers scholarships to Audubon summer camps in both 2007 and 2008, is to give at least 200 underserved and underprivileged children the opportunity to connect to nature and learn more about their environment each year.
Audubon Centers have a long and successful history of providing immersion experiences in natural setting through their week long summer camps. According to Judy Braus, senior vice president of education and centers for the National Audubon Society, by offering scholarships to young people who may not otherwise be able to attend camps, Audubon hopes to help increase the diversity and number of children who begin their journey down the pathway to citizens concerned with - and who act on behalf of - conservation and natural resource issues.
"Audubon, Wild Birds Unlimited and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation share a belief that when children spend quality time outside it can have a lasting, positive impact on their personal lives and the future of our great natural heritage," says Braus.
Young people today are spending less time outside, something that many studies site as critical for developing an environmental stewardship ethic and taking action to protect the environment when they reach adulthood.
Richard Louv, author and founder of the Children and Nature Network, used his most recent book, Last Child in the Woods, to highlight the growing body of research that shows how children who spend time outside are healthier, happier and better adjusted. According to Louv, spending time in nature helps promote critical thinking skills and build a conservation ethic.
"The Pathways to Nature Conservation Fund was established in 1999 by Wild Birds Unlimited in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support education and wildlife viewing projects at refuges, parks, and nature sanctuaries throughout North America," says Peter Stangel, director of eastern partnerships for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. "Providing scholarship opportunities to young people through the National Audubon Society is an exciting way to maintain the outdoor tradition for today's youth."
"We are honored to partner with National Audubon Society through our Pathways to Nature for Kids initiative," says John Schaust, chief naturalist with Wild Birds Unlimited. "It is our hope, that by getting more kids outside, they will connect with the natural world and be inspired to preserve it for future generations."
Children interested in attending an Audubon summer camp can choose from the respected Hog Island Camp on the beautiful coast of Maine or a broad selection of day camps across the United States.
"In the spirit of a tradition that began in 1936, Hog Island Audubon Camp is pleased to be a host camp for this vital collaborative effort between NFWF, WBU, and Audubon," says Seth Benz, director of the Hog Island Audubon Center. "Providing young people a variety of first hand experiences and eye-to-eye contact with the natural world, especially here on the coast of Maine, may be just the right stuff to inspire a life-long connection and active concern for the environment."
Wild Birds Unlimited scholarship eligibility is determined by each Audubon Center. A full list of participating camps and their contact information can be found at http://www.audubon.org/educate/cw/index.html.
For more information about the WBU scholarship program please contact Chuck Remington at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-979-3094.