Building Environmental Stewardship in Culturally-Diverse Fargo
In Fargo, North Dakota, the racial and ethnic landscape is rapidly changing. Many native North Dakotans are eager to leave the state, particularly the young fleeing to urban centers. New and diverse communities are taking their place. Marshall Johnson wants to engage this new generation of multicultural citizens of the Red River Valley in bird and habitat conservation.
With his TogetherGreen fellowship, Marshall will launch the DakotaLark Youth Leadership Program, targeting 5th-7th grade youth from pan-African new-American, Latino, African-American, and traditional communities with the hope of encouraging their conservation ethic through bird-related educational programming.
Students will complete a minimum of four classroom hours of Birding 101. Customized bird field guides will be created in different languages to help students identify local avian species and their habitat. The program will give students a sense of belonging, both to this new world of bird conservation and the potential career opportunities it offers.
And to fully round out these lessons in leadership, the DakotaLark participants will connect with conservation professionals who will introduce them to all that is possible through a rewarding career in conservation. Professionals will range from GIS specialist to Wildlife photographers and will interact with, and encourage the Dakotalarks
Marshall’s culturally sensitive, community-based approach will connect a diverse group of students to birds and nature, as well as educate and empower these young people by growing their comfort and knowledge of area birds, and allow these newly trained young citizen-scientist to put their newfound knowledge and appreciation to good use by restoring critical bird habitat along the Red River of the North.