Pon Dixson, acting project leader at Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex (last row on right in the middle) leads Phi Beta Sigmas and Sigma Beta Club youth members on an air-boat tour with Bayou Sauvage Refuge staff.
Less than a year ago, we began working with African-American fraternity Phi Beta Sigma to engage urban youth in conservation, the natural world and biological sciences.
With 80 percent of Americans living in cities, we know we must do more to forge a connection between nature and urban communities. Our efforts will pay off for them – regular time in the outdoors has been shown to benefit physical, mental and emotional health – for the community – natural systems provide us with clean air, water, jobs and lots more – and for us – as we develop a new generation of conservationists.
Since our leaders signed that Memorandum of Understanding, the folks with “boots on the ground” have been coordinating visits to National Wildlife Refuges to show Sigmas some of the opportunities available there. Our refuge managers also benefit by building relationships with people in the local community.