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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Audubon begins partnership with university ecology research chapter

Article Originally Published by Ryan Cantrell on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Ryan Cantrell on North Texas Daily

University students who have a passion for conservation and bird protection now have access to more resources and benefits following the chapter of the Society of Ecological Restoration’s new partnership with the National Audubon Society, an organization dedicated to providing students across the country with education and resources for environmental conservation. 

The partnership comes from Audubon’s On Campus Chapter Program and is poised to give students educational and internship opportunities, as well as connect with professionals in bird conservation. As part of the educational benefits offered, student liaisons can attend Audubon workshops and communicate information to all university SER members, primarily through their Discord server as well as face-to-face meetings.

“[Audubon] sends [the student liaisons] bi-weekly newsletters that include a variety of upcoming activities, resources, and education content that we forward on to our chapter,” said Brand Richter, a student liaison for Audubon and member of the university’s SER chapter. “In the spring 2020 semester, our members attended [Audubon] hosted workshops on bird conservation project planning, a series on securing a bird proclamation from the university, and a workshop on creating bird friendly communities.”

The university SER chapter also designed a Bird Campus Committee project, which was pitched to the We Mean Green Fund in the spring 0f 2021 by four students alongside Department of Biological Science faculty Jamie Baxter-Slye and Jim Bednarz. If funded, the committee, consisting of both students and staff members, would promote bird diversity on campus through community education, habitat creation and nest boxes. If the Bird Campus Committee funding is granted, student liaisons will also be able to communicate information from the committee and discuss projects that can be done on campus with Audubon professionals.  

“The partnership also shows that our chapter of SER is serious about making connections and working with other organizations,” said Savannah Thomas, SER university chapter president and ecology senior. “I’m extremely proud of our student liaisons that initiated this partnership and will continue to bring great things to UNT.”

SER chapter advisor Baxter-Slye said this partnership makes internships a future possibility, although none with Audubon have taken place yet.

“The way it works is that the UNT SER liaisons will learn about internships that are available from Audubon, and then pass that information on to our UNT SER members and the UNT community,” Baxter-Slye said. “But we have several SER members that do have internships with other organizations this summer.”

Richter said the lack of current internship opportunities are due to the Bird Campus Committee’s pending WMGF funding status.

“[Audubon] also hosted a talk on job opportunities for this summer and project funding grants they make available, however we have not yet taken advantage of these specific resources in part because we are awaiting award status from the WMFG if our project is accepted and funded by UNT,” Richter said.

To monitor natural life around campus, university students can utilize iNaturalist, a software that recognizes and identifies animal and plant species from photos used by the SER chapter. The program allows monitoring of trees, birds and the pollinative prairie creek. Through iNaturalist, students have the opportunity to interact with citizen scientists, Texas Master Naturalists and global wildlife experts.

Featured Image: Western Kingbird perched on tree limb on UNT Campus on June 18, 2021. Image by Laura Nunez

Source: North Texas Daily

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