Today, I was excited to take part in a ceremony to designate one of our Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships, this time in Providence, Rhode Island.
These partnerships, which build on local conservation efforts and neighborhood networks, strive to engage urban residents, both young and old, in real connections with nature.
They provide a way to reach beyond the traditional boundaries of our National Wildlife Refuges to connect with urban communities across the country.
This approach recognizes more than ever that no one can handle all conservation by ourselves – and that we all have to work together with partners.
It also recognizes that if the Fish and Wildlife Service is to forge a relationship between young people and the environment and mold the next generation of conservationists, we need to go where the people are – which is more and more in cities and urban environments.
Using the easily accessible Providence parks as a base, this Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership will restore and maintain suitable wildlife habitats, build nature trails, and provide environmental education programs.
The Nature Conservancy, Roger Williams-Park Zoo and State of Rhode Island are already doing great work in Providence. By sharing our special expertise in wildlife and habitat management with these and other groups, we can help amplify their efforts and deliver even more on-the-ground wildlife conservation.
One project I am particularly excited about is the Roger Williams Park Zoo’s Teacher Institute. Teachers spend a week in the field led by park staff and are introduced to field biology, wildlife conservation and the Fish and Wildlife Service. They then bring that new knowledge back to the classroom.
Together, we will build on existing projects and make sure that the conservation work we are doing is accessible to families and children that live and work in Providence.
We are already hard at work. Partners have begun to identify areas that could be restored for valuable wildlife habitat, and have connected with teachers and students to identify lessons that can be brought to the classroom.
We know how critical this work is. And to show our commitment and dedication to this partnership, we are giving an additional $50,000 to the Providence Project to further this outstanding work. This money will be matched by more than $100,000 in partner contributions.
Vince Lombardi once said, “People who work together will win…” Conservation will win in Providence, and we’ll be having a great time doing it!