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Changing the Face of Conservation

Biologist, author, and birder John C. Robinson has worked field seasons in Alaska and led birding trips to South Africa. But wherever he goes, he says, he often hears the same comment:   

“I’ve never met a black bird watcher before!”

Eventually, it got him wondering why there were so few minorities involved with birding. He explores the topic in his new book, Birding for Everyone: Encouraging People of Color to Become Birdwatchers.

During a lecture in the 2008 Monday Night Seminar series at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Robinson said he believes efforts to conserve the environment hinge on getting minority and inner-city communities more engaged with the natural world. He points out that in another couple of generations, minority populations collectively will be the majority. If they care about nature and the environment, then they will elect public officials who share that concern.

We spoke with Robinson to learn how he got hooked on science, bird watching, and the importance of mentors and role models in spreading an appreciation of nature to new audiences.

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