Connecting Kids to Virginia’s Important Bird Areas
Mary Elfner’s conservation experience spans 20 years and a wide variety of organizations, from working with local, state and federal governments to non-profit and national groups on wildlife, land, and water conservation and protection, to ultimately joining the National Audubon Society, as Virginia's Important Bird Areas Coordinator.
Mary’s 20 years spent on the environment has taught her that conservation doesn’t just happen, but that if she can connect people to the environment, she can help individuals take the crucial first step down the path towards a lifetime of stewardship.
For Mary’s Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship project, she worked with school children who live and study in communities in Virginia’s Important Bird Areas. Her engagement of schools included field trips, bird identification study, and using technology for conservation. She designed an online social networking site so that children can communicate in person and online about forested bird species such as Wood Thrush, Golden-winged Warblers, Cerulean Warblers and other high priority species.
By engaging students using innovative approaches, Mary helped them gain a deeper understanding of Virginia habitats. Mary’s ultimate goal is to turn this knowledge into conservation action, in turn helping high priority bird species and improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.