A Look Inside a Virtual Training Session with Host Organization, NYC Audubon

In early February, I had the privilege of leading a virtual training session for the other Fellows on the work of my host organization, NYC Audubon. Prior to the session, I worked with Priscilla Cohen, Executive Director of the Fellowship, and my supervisor Jessica Wilson, Executive Director of NYC Audubon, to craft an engaging hour and a half training that would give Fellows the ability to understand and articulate the mission of the organization and what they can do to help wild birds in their host cities.

In preparation for the virtual training session, I asked the other Fellows to spend 15 minutes looking for birds outside, encouraging them to take a photo or draw, if they’d like. I also asked them to reflect on the geographic landmarks of their “life journey.” For example, I was curious to hear where they were born, where they grew up, where they went to college, etc.

I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to share the work of my host organization with the other Fellows and broaden their perspectives to the incredible world of birds.

On the day of the virtual training session, Jessica started things off by giving context to the work of NYC Audubon and why understanding wildlife and habitat conservation as social justice is integral to the success of the movement. Once Fellows were settled in, they were prompted to map their “life journeys” on a shared Jamboard world map. We then spoke as a group about our geographical connections and the ways in which those journeys – much like the journeys of migratory birds – had been thrilling or surprising or difficult.

Fellows were then led through the seasonal migration of an Ovenbird (lovingly named Dimitri), through the Atlantic Flyway, the migration path that connects each of the three host cities: Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Along the way, Fellows shared descriptions, photos, and sketches of birds they noticed on their individual bird outings. Boston Fellow, Kira Azulay (Museum of Science), saw Double-crested Cormorants resting on wood pilings. Philadelphia Fellow, Sophie Becker-Klein (Audubon Mid-Atlantic) saw wintering Hooded Mergansers while walking the Discovery Center’s trails. And New York Fellow, Jasmin Norford (Jumpstart), saw the ubiquitous Rock Pigeon.

Along his migration, Dimitri the Ovenbird came up against several challenges, such as navigating Artificial Light at Night (ALAN), habitat loss, and glass windows. In response to these threats, the Fellows brainstormed ways they can help birds in each of the Fellowship host cities.

I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to share the work of my host organization with the other Fellows and broaden their perspectives to the incredible world of birds.

Picture of Jesse McLaughlin

Jesse McLaughlin

Jesse McLaughlin (he/him) is the Advocacy & Engagement Associate FAO Schwarz Fellow at NYC Audubon in New York City.

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