For the past two years, Audubon Florida has led the “Conservation Leadership Initiative” (CLI) at the annual Audubon Assembly. This program matches up young conservationists and students with experienced Audubon leaders for a day at Assembly. The 2012 CLI was nothing short of a success and we are so proud to have Juliana Sierra, one of this year’s students, discuss her recent experience with Audubon and her mentor, Larry Rosen. Thank you to Juliana and please enjoy her report:
My involvement with Audubon began through an internship at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland. I spent all summer in their rehabilitation clinic learning and helping with the recuperation of native Florida raptors. I continue to volunteer at here and, most recently, I have joined the Kissimmee Valley Audubon Society.
In October, I had the honor of receiving a scholarship to attend the Conservation Leadership Initiative as part of the Audubon Assembly. Students were paired with a mentor from local chapters. My mentor was the president of Kissimmee Valley Audubon, Larry Rosen. As part of CLI, we attended a walking workshop where we went out to the field. This was my absolute favorite as I am a strong believer in hands-on learning. Students were also offered a leadership session. We had highly encouraging speakers who motivated us to become environmental leaders in our communities. Our activity during this session placed our thinking skills to the test; we were asked to create our own conservation project applicable to our school campus!
My mentor and I also attended a learning session on Water for the Everglades. This tied in perfectly to the theme of the assembly: Conserve Water to Sustain Life. It focused on the history of the Everglades as a water source to its surrounding counties in the past and the trouble this poses for conservation efforts and water management of the Everglades in the future.
I am fortunate to have been able to attend such a great program, learn more about the Audubon community and their involvement opportunities. I look forward to more programs like CLI where young audiences can network, apply their skills and become involved in the quest for awareness of environmental issues and conservation.