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Audubon and Toyota Team Up to Empower People to Take Action to Restore Habitats
What do the National Audubon Society and Toyota have in common? A commitment to the environmental health of our world, through empowering conservation leaders to restore habitats and communities across the nation.
Toyota TogetherGreen has invested $25.4 million in community-based conservation efforts and engaged more than 475,000 people in more than 300 cities and all 50 states. Photo credit: Toyota TogetherGreen
Eight years ago, Audubon and Toyota teamed up for a joint conservation initiative, Toyota TogetherGreen by Audubon. Since 2008, the program has invested $25.4 million in community-based conservation efforts and engaged more than 475,000 people in more than 300 cities and all 50 states. The program has helped more than 695 environmental leaders who worked with communities to improve 36,422 acres of habitat, conserve 15.75 million gallons of water and log $11.9 million worth of volunteer time. Toyota TogetherGreen fellows and grantees have partnered with more than 3,000 organizations across the country—from Native American tribes to schools to corporations—and have leveraged their funding to raise an additional $12.3 million to support conservation.
Across hundreds of communities, the program has helped hundreds of thousands of people take conservation action. From supporting a congregation that hosts organic farmers markets for residents with little access to healthy food, to helping veterans healing war wounds through ecological restoration, Toyota TogetherGreen fellows and grantees have tackled tough problems with creativity and originality, through a diverse array of perspectives.
Last year, in the final year of the initiative, the program gave out new awards totaling $765,000 to 39 innovative and diverse conservation projects nationwide.
John Connors, in Raleigh, North Carolina, has just completed building a 30-foot roost tower for declining Chimney Swifts in collaboration with the Wake Audubon Society and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. As part of the project, the team hosted a weekend of activities including a Chimney Swift Conservation Forum, which brought together conservation leaders from all over the nation to discuss and design strategies to save these birds. Strategies varied from building regional roost towers, launching advocacy campaigns, using 3D video and computer software and much more.
Melinda Teves, in Chico, California, started a “Neighborhood Habitat Certification Program” designed to educate and empower individuals to restore native habitat and protect waterways, one front-lawn at a time. With the Altacal Audubon Society, Teves collaborated with the city, the local water company, local businesses, non-profits and experts to help residents convert unused lawns to native landscape. At a time when California is experiencing tremendous drought, educating and giving residents tools to effect change has never been more crucial.
Shannon Unger, in Aiken, South Carolina, at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center has teamed up with the nonprofit Helping Hands to use urban gardening as a therapeutic tool for abused children who suffer from trauma. The children have participated in various outdoor projects including bird watching, planting native plants and more. They've been presented with opportunities to transform entire pieces of land, with the responsibility of maintaining and caring for it. This sense of responsibility and collaboration with their peers is a new opportunity for children who have experienced neglect and abuse their whole lives. Overall, these activities help lessen the stress children feel and can help them heal.
These three projects encompass diverse approaches to conservation and engage a variety of people with different backgrounds, ages and interests. This is exactly what Toyota TogetherGreen set out to do eight years ago—change the face of conservation and empower people across America to take action.
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Talk is cheap, says the acting executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, who begged governments around the world to make sure that 2020 is not another year of conferences and empty promises, but instead is the year to take decisive action to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and the destruction of habitat-sustaining ecosystems, as The Guardian reported.