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Audubon de Mexico’s Niños y Naturaleza Program | April Gaydos



Connecting children with nature to give them wings to soar


For most of us who have fully or partially retired to San Miguel de Allende, we grew up during a time of environmental challenges, awakened by Rachel Carlson’s Silent Spring or news of rivers catching fire because of toxic pollutants. But, for the most part, our world still teemed with promise and opportunity. DDT was outlawed, the rivers were mostly cleaned up, the Keep America Beautiful campaigns was in full swing, but it’s clear that human activities continued to fragment, pollute and deplete the natural resources that sustain life on this planet.


Today, these problems have compounded and climate change sits on our shoulders like a heavy weight. What about today's youth who are inheriting a future burdened by overwhelming environmental resource challenges—climate change, water scarcity, desertification and habitat loss— and the ancillary challenges of food scarcity, social disruption, biodiversity decline and more? How can we bear to allow them to face such a broken world without equipping them with the knowledge and skills they will need to navigate what lies ahead and the confidence and compassion to be a force for change?


Audubon de Mexico’s Niños y Naturaleza program, launched in 2015, is our legacy to our youth, providing a pathway for them to become an active participant in securing a healthy future. Our program draws inspiration from the wise words of educator David Sobel: “If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.”


Our consecutive three-year curriculum cultivates a deep appreciation and reverence for life, animals, our planet, and one another by introducing 3rd-5th grade students to the captivating world of birds and habitat and food gardening as a entryway to developing their sense of wonder, curiosity and empathy, and forming an enduring connection with nature. Lessons in the natural sciences and developing self-awareness through creative expression are an integral part of our program, designed to support or reflect upon activities in the garden or observing birds in their schoolyard or on a field trip.

  

Our students also participate in Aves Compartidas, a cross-cultural collaboration with the Willamette Valley in Oregon, that focuses on our shared migratory birds as a way to bring children together to learn about each other’s cultures and landscapes, and the arduous migratory journey that provides lessons in resilience and our shared responsibility of taking care of our land and water for their survival. Our ultimate purpose is to help our kids feel empowered - that they can make a difference; to find meaning as nature’s caretakers and a sense of community through shared experiences. As their guides, we're with them every step of the way, devoting at least 15 hours a month at each school, making each encounter a discovery adventure that fuels their curiosity and their desire to know more, following these four basic principles:


  1. Place-Based Learning: Connecting learning to the place where they live fosters student engagement, academic achievement, and a deeper understanding and appreciation of their environment.


  1. Multifaceted Learning: Through art, storytelling, writing, experiments and gardening, we provide for diverse learning styles, ensuring every child can thrive and actively participate.


  1. Hands-On Stewardship: By immersing children in gardening activities, they learn to nurture and sustain their surroundings.


  1. Community building: Fostering a sense of community is paramount. Learning to support, cooperate, empathize and show compassion towards others, whether they be human, plants or animals, enriches collective well-being.


Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, when addressing our environmental challenges said, “It’s a never-ending summit. You’re just climbing forever. You’ll never get to the top, but it’s the journey.”


Don’t we want to inspire them to become the next generation of engineers, biologists and green pioneers working to bring people and nature into balance? We invite you to participate in supporting and expanding this vital program, which serves nearly 200 children today. Covid restrictions and the sad loss of our Oregon leader, set us back a bit, but we’re back on track now and looking forward to begin introducing 1st and 2nd grade students to the world of nature in the fall of 2024, establishing a mentorship program for 6th grade students (where they are the mentors) and doubling our impact by adding two schools in 2025.



AUDUBON DE MÉXICO


Together, let's give children wings so they can soar and empower them to cultivate a world where both people and nature can thrive. To get involved contact us at audubondemexico@gmail.com

To donate to this program or to learn more: www.audubonmexico.org

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