Los Angeles Audubon Society awarded $10,000 from California State Parks Foundation Increasing Youth Access to State Parks grant.
This grant from the California State Parks Foundation will enable Los Angeles Audubon to increase the reach of its Baldwin Hills Youth Leadership and Summer Fellows Program and connect hundreds of urban students to parks like the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park.
The Baldwin Hills Youth Leadership and Summer Fellows Program is all about increasing youth access to nature and is part of LA Audubon’s ongoing commitment to engaging urban youth in nature conservation activities. The Youth Leadership and Summer Fellows Program is an after-school program that provides weekly nature activities conducted at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park. LA Audubon also offers an elementary and middle school field trip program at adjacent Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area where College Docents lead approximately 2500 students on educational walks through the park each year, introducing students to native upland habitat and experiencing the Ballona Creek Watershed.
Since 2008, Los Angeles Audubon has steadily grown the Baldwin Hills Youth Program from 12 students the first year to now averaging 50 students each year. We’ve reached out to 4 high schools, inviting hundreds of students to participate either in the Baldwin Hills program and/or as a volunteer at restoration and park appreciation events held in the Park. The California State Parks Foundation has played an important role in helping to fund fellowships for high school graduates to serve as environmental leaders engaging park goers and community volunteers in habitat restoration. Student interest continues to grow for our Baldwin Hills Program as word of mouth shared with other students is very positive. Program Alumni younger siblings sign up for the program and we’ve seen entire families grow up with us in the program! Many alumni return to work as summer fellows and some are now paid employees of Los Angeles Audubon.
The Program has helped to launch the next generation of environmental stewards. Alumni who are recent college graduates have served as interns in program collaborations with Environment for the Americas, studying shorebirds and conducting bilingual outreach. We have alumni now serving in Teach For America working as educators in LAUSD, employed by California State Parks, serving as endangered species field technicians, certified as California Naturalists through the University of California, and graduate degree holders in environmental management.
Los Angeles Audubon’s work in environmental education, community outreach and habitat restoration/stewardship provides an important service to urban youth and their communities by introducing them to ways in which they can enjoy and value nature and open green spaces.
Originally Published in The Western Tanager, Vol. 85 No. 5, May-June 2019