Florida Scrub-jay, Photo: RJ Wiley on Audubon Florida

“Outdoors for All” panel slated for Oct. 22 at 5 p.m. for discussion on eliminating racial barriers

From Audubon Florida

This spring, Black birder Christian Cooper captured on video a white woman falsely accusing him of threatening her in Central Park’s Ramble. This snapped into sharp focus for the birding community that, while public lands belong to all, these spaces have a history of being less welcoming and less safe for communities of color.

As part of Audubon Florida’s Virtual Assembly, entitled “Reimagining Audubon Florida: A Call for Inclusive Conservation,” Audubon will host a panel of Black outdoor enthusiasts for a discussion of their lived experiences in the outdoors, and how allies and organizations like Audubon can work to eliminate these barriers.

The panel will include:

·       Barbara Roole as moderator. She is currently the Director of Equity for the Jessie Ball duPont Fund in Jacksonville, and holds both a JD and MPA from UNC Chapel Hill. She is a long-time outdoorswoman (beginning with her childhood in the UK).

·       Natasza Fontaine is a bio graduate student at Florida State University. Her current research focuses on understanding habitat associations between plants and birds. She is also passionate about bioacoustics, and when out birding, makes recording bird calls and songs a priority. On weekends she is busy chasing a birding Big Year with her boyfriend that many of us are following enviously via social media. Last, but not least, she is also a natural science illustrator and loves the connection between science and art.

·       Herby Zephir is a pre-law student at the University of Florida and Haitian-American. He grew up in Homestead and is a graduate of Audubon’s Conservation Leadership Initiative program for college-aged students interested in conservation. He has been active in his local Audubon chapter and many conservation causes, and speaks powerfully about his experiences in the outdoors.

·       Clive Pinnock is a naturalist, wildlife educator, tour guide, and conservationist, and has played many volunteer roles at Audubon Society of the Everglades (Broward County), including go-to-guy for “what’s this bird” questions and coordinator of the chapter’s field trips. Originally from Jamaica, he has worked as a biologist for the National Park Service and has extensive experiences of his own in the outdoors as well as being responsible for introducing others to wild places and outdoor recreation.

The Audubon Virtual Assembly will be held from October 20-24, via Zoom. Florida’s premier conservation event, the Assembly brings grassroots leaders from around the state to connect with Audubon’s professional staff and partners to grow their knowledge and skills to protect Florida’s precious natural resources.

This year’s virtual event will include learning sessions, panel discussions, a chapter celebration, and field trips via video with a theme of inclusive conservation. The Keynote Presentation by J. Drew Lanham, author, poet, and wildlife biologist, will tie it all together.

Learn more at fl.audubon.org/assembly.

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