During the week of June 1st, EcoReach participated in the inaugural #BlackBirdersWeek on social media, which Kaylee Arnold co-organized. This movement was started by @BlackAFinSTEM on Twitter in response to the video of a white woman who called the police on birdwatcher (or “birder”) Christian Cooper after he requested that she follow regulations and leash her dog in Central Park. As America continues to grapple with systemic racism and violence following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, and so many others, it has also been highlighted that Black people face unique challenges and discrimination in the field of Ecology or when out in nature, even while doing something as simple as bird watching or going outside for a jog.
Inspired by these events, EcoReach and other OSE members teamed up with Lilly Branch Audubon Society to support the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society’s “Binoculars for Young Black Birders,” a binoculars drive to support young, Black birders in Athens-Clarke County. In just under a few weeks, we raised nearly $20,000 from GoFundMe donations and direct donations to Oconee Rivers Audubon Society (ORAS). With this money, EcoReach is currently working with Clarke County School District (CCSD) to provide individual binoculars and local bird guides to every K-12 Black student in CCSD that would like a pair as well as provide additional binoculars and guides to each CCSD science teacher to use in their classrooms. Lack of access to equipment, such as binoculars, results in substantial inequitable access to outdoor activities and outdoor education. By providing students with their own binoculars and field guides, we can help remove one of the many barriers Black students may face in regards to participating in outdoor activities that so many of us enjoy and take for granted.
See the campaign here.