During a migratory bird’s full life cycle, it may travel thousands of miles, transcending political, cultural, and racial boundaries. Many of these shared migratory birds are suffering population declines, highlighting a need for people to come together to address the environmental crises threatening the lands and waters on which people and birds depend. Unfortunately, our World’s diversity of voices are not equitably heard and included when we try to address global conservation needs. As a result, Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), and low-income individuals are disproportionately impacted by environmental threats, including climate change, pollution, population growth, and habitat loss and degradation. This fact makes it even more imperative that we approach every aspect of KBO’s work (i.e., science, education, and partnerships) from a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice perspective. KBO actively works to build more diverse partnerships to hear from a wider array of audiences and center more BIPOC voices as experts in the bird conservation movement.
Conservation and Partnerships
Colonialism and conservation are intertwined. In post-settlement acts to protect the environment, Indigenous people have been negatively impacted, excluded, and, in some cases, criminalized. At KBO, a priority is to build sustaining partnerships in Latin America,the Caribbean, and with Indigenous communities in the United States focused on coproducing bird conservation outcomes that benefit people and birds. We do this through collaboration, fundraising, and training with the intent to build capacities and elevate voices that have been underrepresented in most science-based conservation and natural resource management forums.
Education and Outreach
Knowledge is a central aspect of addressing systemic environmental injustice. KBO works to increase the accessibility of our educational materials, outreach events, professional training, and internship opportunities. We are building relationships with local BIPOC partners to ensure our engagement meets their needs and interests of traditionally underserved communities. Additionally, we are addressing income barriers by providing free educational materials and outreach opportunities, financial support for internships, and assisting with travel expenses. Nurturing an environmental ethic through community education and outreach focusing on engagement with underserved communities is a priority in meeting our mission.
KBO staffing demographics have been a model for increasing the representation of women in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics community. However, we recognize that BIPOC and LGBQT+ are significantly under-represented in conservation organizations, including KBO. Therefore, we prioritize our learning and growth to increase DEIJ in all areas of bird conservation and KBO’s work. Advancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion means investing in collective learning efforts among our staff and board, developing more opportunities for professional growth, addressing existing inequities, and working toward creating an even greater sense of belonging here at KBO and throughout the bird conservation community. We are reaching beyond our traditional networks to recruit staff and board members and forge new partnerships.
As KBO grows and learns, we make changes toward a more equitable and inclusive organization. We recognize that this can be a long and challenging process; therefore, we welcome and embrace more diverse feedback and collaboration.