National Audubon and REI Foundation Announce Grant for Nature Center Program

The National Audubon Society and the REI Foundation today announced the funding of a significant program.

The National Audubon Society and the REI Foundation today announced the funding of a significant program that will allow Audubon to study its existing offerings and community collaborations and design future nature programs that better support the needs and interests of culturally diverse individuals and families.

“This is about continuing to listen and learn so we can build on our existing success to make nature programs truly inclusive,” said Audubon Vice President for Education, Judy Braus. “We need to ensure that language and culture are never obstacles to people experiencing nature and growing to cherish and conserve it for the rest of their lives.”

The $110,000 grant from the REI Foundation will help Audubon build on the success of Latino-focused nature programs at three urban Audubon Centers: the Audubon Center at Debs Park in East Los Angeles; Seward Park Environmental and Audubon Center in Seattle; and the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix. The Centers will work to expand connections with local community organizations.

Through its network of community-based nature centers and chapters, Audubon is conserving and restoring natural ecosystems by engaging people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences. The REI Foundation, a private foundation, is working to ensure that tomorrow's outdoor enthusiasts and conservation stewards reflect the diversity of America, through strategic engagement and financial support.

“The REI Foundation's primary focus is to increase the number of young people and families who enjoy the outdoors,” said REI Foundation President Michael Collins. “It’s essential that ensuring that the people who enjoy hiking, camping, cycling and other outdoor endeavors reflect the great diversity of our country. The work of Audubon and its commitment to help more people experience nature helps nurture this important seed.”

Nature centers have a rich history of forging bonds and creating enduring impacts on the people they reach. While Latino traditions enthusiastically embrace the outdoors, many nature-oriented organizations in the country lack the cultural insights, language skills, and community connections to effectively involve Latino individuals and families in experiential and conservation programs.

“It’s great to be working to help nature education programs succeed in northeast Los Angeles and Latino communities across the country. Working as one community is the best way to make to be sure of reaching all local residents,” said Arturo Gonzalez, Arroyo Seco Foundation outreach coordinator and a key ally in Audubon’s community projects.

Audubon is among the first organizations to receive funding stemming from recommendations and collaboration with The National Forum on Children and Nature, a group of public and private leaders that led a national effort to reconnect kids with nature. The Forum, which launched in 2007, worked to identify exceptional efforts from across the country. The Audubon program was one such project. Additional REI Foundation-supported programs include the New York Restoration Project in New York City and the EarthTeam Environmental Network in Berkeley, Calif., other important projects that were endorsed by the National Forum.

About the National Audubon Society

Now in its second century, Audubon connects people with birds, nature and the environment that supports us all. Our national network of community-based nature centers, chapters, scientific, education, and advocacy programs engages millions of people from all walks of life in conservation action to protect and restore the natural world.

About the REI Foundation

The REI Foundation was founded and supported by Recreational Equipment, Inc. in 1993. The Foundation's mission concentrates on helping to ensure that tomorrow's outdoor enthusiasts and conservation stewards reflect the diversity of America.