Throughout Black History Month, Sharon Audubon Center in Sharon, Connecticut, partnered with nearby Torrington High School’s Science Club to honor Black environmentalists while also encouraging outdoor learning by collaborating on posters and signage for the center’s outdoor trails. 

Sharon Audubon Center education staff has worked with local schools in the past, so it was a natural fit when Wendy Miller and Eileen Fielding—the center’s education program manager and center director, respectively—presented the idea of doing a project around conservation heroes of color to Torrington High’s school administrators and science club. 

To kick off the project, the students worked with Miller and Fielding to create a list of people to feature. Former Audubon board member Dr. Drew J. Lanham, Georgia Audubon’s community engagement manager Corina Newsome, outdoor activists Audrey and Frank Peterman, and government affairs coordinator and co-organizer of the first #BlackBirdersWeek Tykee James were just some of the heroes students chose. Students then worked together to research each person and create the materials that would be posted around the Sharon Audubon Center trails and grounds.

To keep momentum going and expand the reach of the program, members of the science club attended a virtual Q&A with Tykee James, teachers, and administrators. In addition to talking about his experiences in Audubon and starting #BlackBirdersWeek, James talked about how he emerged as a leading voice for equity and inclusion and the barometers of racial progress.

Tykee James, government affairs coordinator with the National Audubon Society, speaks with Science Club students at Torrington High School. Wendy Miller/Sharon Audubon

“Doing this work and speaking with these students creates a positive feedback loop in the movement,” says James. “Knowing that the work I’ve done inspired others to do that work makes me want to work harder so it's easier for the next generation of people. 

The posters that feature James and other conservation heroes of color are now being displayed at Sharon Audubon Center’s main trail kiosk and trails at least through the end of February.

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