Audubon Connecticut, the state office of the National Audubon Society received a $15,000 grant from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and a $17,000 gift from David and Landon Storrs in support of the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds.
In 2013, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded Audubon Connecticut with a grant to establish the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds. The Alliance includes a number of partners, each dedicated to the protection of coastal habitats and the wildlife they support. The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History (RTPI) fosters understanding, appreciation, and protection of the natural world and is a strong partner in the Alliance. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection are the government agencies charged with the protection of our natural resources. Together, we deployed a cadre of volunteer beach stewards who work with state and federal agencies to monitor nesting coastal birds and educate the public about the species found in and around Long Island Sound.
We also work with coastal municipalities to ensure that public access to beaches can continue, so long as people respect bird nesting areas and “Share the Shore” with nesting birds. In Bridgeport, Audubon works with RTPI and the City, to provide job training and employment in the field of conservation biology for high school students. The high schools students, a.k.a. the WildLife Guards, receive hands-on training in bird monitoring, coastal ecology, and public outreach from Audubon and RTPI staff while the City provides general job training. These youth then become the official monitors at Pleasure Beach, tasked with tracking the reproductive success of state threatened birds, such as the Piping Plover, and sharing their knowledge with visitors. The Guards first observe and then work together to deliver public programs that help Bridgeport residents come to value Pleasure Beach’s natural resources. The grant from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation ensures that we will be able to continue this program in 2016, however additional funding is still needed.
“Together, Audubon and its partners are engaging communities and protecting coastal habitats throughout Long Island Sound, helping humans and wildlife coexist for the benefit of both,” says Stewart Hudson, Audubon Connecticut Executive Director. “In Bridgeport, this translates into opportunities for students to work in conservation, gain confidence, knowledge, and job skills that will aid them in their future careers."
Fairfield County’s Community Foundation promotes philanthropy as a means to create change in Fairfield County, focusing on innovative and collaborative solutions to critical issues impacting the community. Individuals, families, corporations, and organizations can establish charitable funds or contribute to existing funds. The Community Foundation is in compliance with the Council on Foundations’ national standards and has awarded $180 million in grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County and beyond. For more information, visit www.fccfoundation.org.
Audubon Connecticut, the state office of the National Audubon Society with more than 9,000 members in the state, works to protect birds, other wildlife, and their habitats through education, research, conservation, and legislative advocacy for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. Through our network of nature centers, protected wildlife sanctuaries, and local, volunteer Chapters, we seek to connect people with nature and inspire the next generation of conservationists. Audubon Connecticut’s Coastal Waterbird Stewardship Program is headquartered at Stratford Point, in Stratford and can be reached at 860-977-4469. ct.audubon.org/conservation/seas-shores/coastal-waterbird-stewardship-program.
Patrick Comins, firstname.lastname@example.org, 860-977-4469
Corrie Folsom-O’Keefe, email@example.com, 203-405-9116 (WildLife Guards Program)