[audubon-news] Debs Park Audubon Center Groundbreaking

  • From: "BIANCHI, John" <JBIANCHI@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To:
  • Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 15:05:32 -0400

Contact:  John Bianchi


Tree Planting Ceremony Marks the Creation of New Nature Center;
Green Building to Serve Urban Los Angeles Communities

Los Angeles, CA, Friday, October 25, 2002 - To mark the start of building a
new nature center facility in Debs Park, Audubon President & CEO John
Flicker, California Congressman Ed Reyes, and members of Audubon California
and the Los Angeles Audubon Society today joined community leaders and
schoolchildren from East Los Angeles and Highland Park to plant an oak tree
at the site where this and future generations of Angelinos will learn about
the nature in their backyards and parks.

"Audubon will bring conservation home to urban Los Angeles," said Audubon's
Flicker.  "Children in the city don't have many opportunities to experience
nature.  Through today's tree-planting ceremony, we dedicate ourselves to
connecting families with nature by building outdoor education programs where
the kids are."

At the heart of Audubon's strategy has been an innovative, model project: to
build and operate a Nature Center in Debs Park.  Now that plan will become a
reality.  Ten minutes from downtown, Debs Park is a surprisingly natural,
195-acre park that is home to more than 80 species of birds.  More than
30,000 school children, mostly Latino, live within a two-mile radius of the
park, yet many have never visited it.  The facility Audubon begins today
will provide hands-on education and recreation opportunities in the park,
year-round, for children and families not traditionally served by the
conservation community.

The Debs Park Nature Center is the product of cooperation between Audubon,
the community, elected officials, city staff, and the philanthropic
community.  "Today's launch has been achieved through an innovative
public/private partnership that brought conservationists, parents, teachers,
and public officials together to enhance and restore an existing, City-owned
park." said Jerry Secundy, executive director of Audubon California.  "This
is a unique and visionary project. The Debs Park Nature Center makes sense -
it's the backyard of this community and it will provide those key
experiences to encourage understanding and love of nature in our children." 

Since 1999, an Audubon Center has operated from a renovated storefront on
the east side of the Los Angeles River in the historic community of Highland
Park.  The center has provided nature education opportunities for children
and families in Northeast and East Los Angeles and has served as the staging
ground for the construction of the permanent Debs Park Audubon Center, which
begins today.  This enterprise has marked the first time a national
conservation organization has made a long-term commitment to the heart of
urban Los Angeles. 

"Today's ceremony is the culmination of more than a decade's work with
teachers and schools in the Los Angeles Community," said Melanie Ingalls,
Director of the Debs Park Audubon Center.  "We believe that direct
connection with the natural world - birds, bugs, and plants -at an early age
brings people to actively care about the environment as adults.  The Debs
Park Audubon Center - once built - will fulfill the need for creative,
inclusive, multi-cultural environmental education, and will really make that
vision come alive."

Audubon has worked with teachers in Los Angeles schools to help urban kids
get in touch with the natural world for more than ten years.  Through
teacher training, curriculum materials, and outdoor classrooms at the
Ballona Wetlands and the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area, Audubon has
successfully introduced nearly a quarter-million of Los Angeles's children
thus far to the wonders of nature.

Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat
that supports them.  Our national network of community-based Audubon nature
centers and chapters, environmental education programs, and advocacy on
behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations engage millions of
people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

#   #   #

The Audubon Center
6042 Monte Vista Street
Los Angeles, CA 90042 
(323) 254-0252 phone
(323) 254-0567 fax 

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