One of our mini-grant winners, Friends of Brook Park, held a wonderful event to celebrate the environment. Friends of Brook Park is an organization in South Bronx, New York City whose focus is engaging youths from the community in a gardening project featuring everything from garden maintenance to food cultivation. Through a partnership with the Bronx Children’s Museum, Sewer in a Suitcase, and Celebrate Urban Birds, the participants learned how to be better stewards of their communities.
The park sits on an acre of land that is rich in wildlife, making it ideal for greening and educational purposes. In May, the collaborating organizations came together to set up a series of stalls with different activities for students and the general public to enjoy. Using small dioramas, Sewer in a Suitcase showed the children the importance of water quality to communities and the environment. In another area, posters depicted information on local birds’ beaks and diets, and about ornithology as a field of study. The Bronx Children’s Museum brought their River on the Go program which taught the children about the plants and wildlife in the rivers of the Bronx.
After the presentations, the students and participants were given small notebooks and field guides to encourage future birding experiences. They were also provided with kits from Celebrate Urban Birds so they could record their data and learn about 16 focal species in their area. They spread out throughout around the park to find spots to comfortably view birds, inspiring a heightened awareness of the surrounding nature. After the activity, some participants shared excitement that they had seen a Blue Jay and a Northern Cardinal at the same time.
Later, the participants planted various flowers that are beneficial to birds. Some did annual plants, including sunflowers and zinnias, while others planted berry- and seed-producing native perennials. Meanwhile, Friends of Brook Park shared information with the participants about the immediate effects of each specific plant on the ecosystem, and especially on local birds. Students even assisted in building a trellis to hold natural vines, and decorated a hanging sign dedicated to celebrating urban birds.
The children relaxed with a period for fine arts and healthy bird-themed snacks of berries, seeds, and nuts. Each drew their favorite bird that they had spotted at the park and colored it with the crafting materials provided. These drawings were collected and displayed temporarily throughout the park, which brought more families to gather at the park and participate in birding adventures.
Members of Friends of Brook Park are heavily involved in their community and hosted this amazing event to promote the importance of both science and nature. We thank them for inspiring appreciation for birds and encouraging habitat stewardship, protection, and creation. Organizations like this one prove that together, we can have a positive impact on the world.