Connecting City Youth to Nature through the Urban Conservation Crew
Amy Boyd believes that all children, regardless of location, deserve a chance to know the joy of discovering the natural world through hands-on experiences. While this goal can be a bit more challenging when working with urban children who can have limited access to nature, Amy has spent the last quarter decade doing just that.
For the past 25 years, Amy has worked to reunite children and nature through zoos, camps, and nature centers. For the last nine months, she has been working at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, overseeing programs that make the conservation goals come to life for the children that live in the heart of downtown Columbus, Ohio. Situated in what once was a neglected industrial dumping ground, the Grange Insurance Audubon Center is now a beautiful remediated green oasis, providing a beacon of hope for Columbus residents. The Center is situated in an economically disadvantaged and racially diverse community, where students have substandard science proficiency test scores and few opportunities for environmental stewardship.
For Amy’s Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship project, she worked to connect with the Center’s many community partners that serve urban youth to create kid-centered conservation projects. Participating youth were tied directly to the Center’s conservation goals, and helped in the eradicating of invasive species and repairing of the riparian corridor of the Scioto River on the Whittier Peninsula. At the same time, they learned about project planning and design, conservation career opportunities, and environmental leadership.
By designing research projects directly linked to the Center’s resource management plan, students learned tangible skills that reinforce the connection among science, conservation, and technology. Amy hopes the students will eventually become conservation ambassadors by conducting their own programs for Center visitors.