Toyota and the National Audubon Society today announced that a TogetherGreen Fellowship award will be given to Victoria "Tori" Strickland, Education Specialist at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. Tori's award is for her conservation-based education plans that tie in directly with school lesson plans, particularly those of low-income students in the city.
TogetherGreen, a conservation initiative of the National Audubon Society and Toyota, selects 40 high-potential local leaders annually to receive a $10,000 grant. With the funds, Fellows conduct community projects to engage diverse audiences in habitat, water, or energy conservation. In addition to receiving support launching their conservation initiatives, the Fellows also benefit from specialized training and the opportunity to become part of an exciting alumni network of conservation professionals.
"Tori is an environmental hero. She and the other TogetherGreen Fellows help people engage with nature. They look like America: diverse, passionate, and patriotic," said Audubon President David Yarnold. "Tori is a leader, and we're pleased to give her a chance to invent the future."
An Educator at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, Strickland finds particular satisfaction in the center's Conservation Classroom outreach program, wherein 15 Columbus City Schools (with priority on schools within a five-mile radius of the center, where the percentage of students receiving subsidized meals is nearly three times the state average) attend 12 full-day visits for conservation-based education experiences. She will utilize her fellowship to expand the program's reach and scope and community awareness-increasing and protecting bird and wildlife habitat along the Mississippi flyway, in part by creating youth community action teams within the south side of Columbus. These action teams will be the driving force in reclaiming the environmental integrity of their neighborhoods through conservation action. Students participating in the program will work together throughout the school year to increase environmental awareness within their neighborhoods. At the conclusion of the school year, each team will implement their project designs and create a native habitat at each of their schools year to reflect the conservation needs within that habitat and their community. A bike tour of completed neighborhood projects by each team will celebrate the success of the south side stewardship teams. This bike tour will have registration open to the public with members of the community, school board members, co-workers, and Audubon chapter members participating.
The TogetherGreen Fellowship Program invests in high-potential individuals from all backgrounds, providing them with resources, visibility, and a growing peer network to help them lead communities nationwide to a healthier environmental future. To date, 200 environmental leaders from across the country have been awarded TogetherGreen fellowships. These leaders have worked with nearly 500 organizations and engaged over 100,000 people in community-based conservation action, achieving results in habitat, water, and energy.
A complete list of the 2012 TogetherGreen Fellows and details about their conservation projects can be found at the Together Green Web site. Audubon and Toyota launched the TogetherGreen initiative in 2008 to foster diverse environmental leadership and innovative conservation ideas. TogetherGreen funding recipients have helped protect 250 species of birds and other wildlife, improved 10,000 acres of habitat, mobilized 220,000 individuals, collected two million pounds of recyclables, and captured $5 million worth of volunteer time.