The American Birding Association affirms that birding can and should improve the quality of life for anyone and everyone. Our mission is to “inspire all people to enjoy and protect wild birds,” and yet the ABA, along with the larger birding community it serves, remains overwhelmingly white.
We resolve to work with the Black Birder community, as well as the broader BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & People of Color) community, to better understand and amplify their voices and to better serve them and the cause of birding itself.
ABA EDI Resources, Programs, and Efforts
Below is a partial and growing list of efforts we are making, are committing to make, and considering. All are intended to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in our birding community.
I: LISTEN TO AND AMPLIFY BIPOC VOICES
Social Media [ongoing]—the ABA is very active and accessible via social media, and we are especially eager to help amplify the voices of BIPOC birders. We need you as part of the conversation and our community. Tweet us @ABA; follow us on Instagram @AmericanBirdingAssociation; or join us at facebook.com/birders.
Direct Dialogue [beginning July 2020]—we will host informal, short presentations by BIPOC birders for ABA board and staff. While private, excerpts and insights from these meetings will be shared in our various content channels. An honorarium is offered for each session. We are actively contacting guests for this program from leaders in the Black Birder community and elsewhere. If you are interested in being such a guest, please contact [email protected] or reach us through social media listed just above.
II: INCREASE REPRESENTATION
Content Creation [ongoing]—we actively seek writing, photography, podcast, and other interviews, videos, and public presentations for our Virtual Bird Club by and from BIPOC birders. We pay for or offer honoraria for most of these.
Portrayal in Images and Stories [ongoing]—the ABA believes it is important to depict and portray birders and birding in addition to birds, and we want to present a full range of birders and their experiences in our media outlets. If you can help us do that, please get in touch.
Staff, Contractors, Board, and Other Volunteers [ongoing]—we are a nonprofit with a small staff and are at this point not able to hire employees as frequently as we would like. However, we work with a larger pool of contractors. We encourage BIPOC professionals and volunteers to make their interest in working with the ABA known, and we resolve to seek out BIPOC birders and professionals to fill roles as they develop. We also have welcomed and actively seek BIPOC representation on our board of directors and other volunteer positions.
Please use the email address [email protected] or reach us through social media to learn more about any of these opportunities.
III: REMOVE BARRIERS
No-cost eMembership for BIPOC [beginning July 2020]—the ABA has not sought or recorded data on the races of its members. However, it is clear anecdotally that BIPOC birders are far less numerous within our organization than they ought to be. We would like to actively facilitate the process of adding BIPOC members by offering a minimum of 100, one year, eMemberships at no cost to anyone who can help us be more diverse and inclusive racially. This first 100 member effort is a trial run which, if successful, we plan to expand. If you are a BIPOC birder and would like to help by becoming an ABA member, email us at [email protected]
Other [ongoing and contemplated]—of course, the ongoing global pandemic has radically altered many of the ABA’s program offerings and plans. But we are looking at ways to do the following as it becomes possible to resume such activities:
We offer an extensive scholarship program for our Young Birder Camps to make them as affordable and accessible as possible. Still, we realize that even very reasonable fees, plus travel and associated costs, may still present barriers for many. We expect our camps and scholarships will grow and expand and will work to make them even more widely available to all. We encourage any individual or organization who can fund or otherwise assist such efforts to contact us via [email protected]
The ABA also seeks ways to offer professional development experiences to those who are interested in pursuing careers in various aspects of the birding industry. Again, our events programs are postponed or on hold currently, but we are seeking ways to offer BIPOC birders meaningful opportunities to build their skill sets, resumes, and contacts in ecotourism and other birding businesses.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list. There will be more to come. But we hope and believe this represents a significant and meaningful effort toward the goals we all share—a planet with more birds and more birders, all represented in their amazing and wondrous diversity.
Jeffrey A. Gordon
PS: This is the first of additional reports that will be issued this year regarding our ongoing efforts. Others will follow on or before September 30, 2020, and December 30, 2020. A summary of previous statements and related information on how to help, including requests for comment and news of volunteer and paid work opportunities, can be found at aba.org/EDI.