The Audubon Observer, December 2020
MANY VOICES FOR CONSERVATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Continuing our series focusing on the contributions of historically under-recognized groups to conservation and environmental sciences, this month we are featuring newly-elected member of the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District Ashantae Green, whose term representing Group 4 will begin on January 1, 2021.
Ashantae’s passion is connecting the community to a green lifestyle and working to ensure that everyone has access to green spaces, healthy food, and clean water. For many years she has been an advocate for environmental equity, community education, and sustainability, and in her position on the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District, she plans to continue and amplify this work.
Growing up on Jacksonville’s Eastside, Ashantae witnessed firsthand the impacts of environmental inequities, with higher rates of asthma and heat stroke among neighborhood children due to the lack of trees as well as pollution from factories and roads built right through the area, making the community up to 10 degrees warmer than other areas of town. And it’s not just the Eastside – other Jacksonville neighborhoods are also dealing with air pollution, regular flooding and erosion, contaminated soil, and inequitable access to healthy food.
Ashantae has made significant efforts to address these issues over the last several years. She helped create Circle of Caring Jax, a sustainable non-profit dedicated to helping families by providing educational resources and mostly organic food provided by community gardens and rescued from local farms and grocery stores to divert food waste and address food insecurity in communities. She has also worked with students from grades K-12 to teach them about the choices they can make to ensure the future of this planet, and is active in several nonprofit organizations, including the US Green Building Council, the North Florida Green Chamber of Commerce, the ACE Mentor Program of Northeast Florida, and The Garden Club of Jacksonville. As an architectural and digital designer specializing in Green Building, Ashantae was appointed to the Subcommittee on Education, Protection of Local Neighborhoods, and Community Outreach of Jacksonville City Council’s Special Committee on Resiliency, and advises on environmental planning, community protection, and community outreach.
For more than a year, Ashantae has been an active volunteer with the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District, assisting with planning educational programs and serving as a subject matter expert on sustainability and environmental equity issues. Now that she is an elected member of the District, she will work even harder for the people and the planet.
Ashantae, we applaud your passion for environmental justice and your commitment to encouraging everyone in Duval County to live a green lifestyle!
--Carol Bailey-White, President
"AUDUBON ADVENTURES" CLASSROOM KITS NOW AVAILABLE
Looking to reward your favorite teacher, student, or class with free Audubon science curriculum? Duval Audubon Society is currently accepting applications for Audubon Adventures classroom kits with print and online components for students, teachers, and parents. Click here to access the online application.
What’s in a kit? Printed student magazines, letter to instructor, letter to parent/caregiver, classroom certificate, online user guides for teachers, and an online portal for parents. Audubon Adventures also includes access to online group activities, posters, quizzes, puzzles and games, teaching standards, assessment, glossary, bibliography, and other environmental education resources. A list of kits and example curriculum is linked on the digital application.
After your application is received, we will contact you with further instructions. Educators will receive kits at an address of their choosing for safe, limited-contact delivery. Please email questions to email@example.com.
Our Audubon Adventures Classroom Kit grants are open to public, private, and home schools located in Clay, Duval, or Nassau counties in Northeast Florida. Inspire education and advocacy on behalf of birds and other wildlife and their habitats, as well as other environmental issues that matter in our area. Apply today and help our chapter give back to our local community with curriculum-connected science and conservation experiences in the field and in the classroom.
--Cristina Tuckness, Education Director
JACKSONVILLE'S URBAN FORESTRY PROGRAM
If you are a Jacksonville resident, the City of Jacksonville will plant a tree (or two) on the City's right of way at your home for FREE. All you have to do is call the city (630-CITY) and ask for the trees and they will send an Urban Forestry staff member out to evaluate your right of way and help you select the best tree(s) to plant. It’s recommended that you do your homework first by going to the City's Urban Forestry website. You will find all kinds of information there including a list of available trees.
How is this possible? The City has tree mitigation money that it is required to spend on replanting trees. The trees must be planted on City property (hence planting on the right of way), but these will add to the aesthetics of your yard and neighborhood, and will also help support the bird population in your area.
Besides getting free trees, the Urban Forestry website gives you information about tree protections and tree removal policies. There is an extensive list of invasive plants as well. You can also find out how and when to report tree removal that you feel may be unlawful. Just remember that home owners are legally allowed to cut down trees on their own property.
Sierra Club Northeast Florida Group is hosting an online informational session about Jacksonville's Urban Forestry Program at 7 pm on Monday, December 14, 2020. Visit their Facebook page for more information.
Let’s bring the trees back to Jacksonville! Get your free tree now.
--Carolyn Antman, Conservation Director for Duval County
CROSBY SANCTUARY FALL 2020 NEWS
Most members of our chapter know about our Crosby Sanctuary conservation property by now, but here’s a brief introduction for any new members: Crosby is a 510-acre nature and wildlife preserve in Clay County, Florida near the Town of Orange Park. We own the sanctuary and manage it with the help of volunteers who contribute their time every month performing tasks such as mowing, trail maintenance, native plantings, trash pickup, and invasive plant control. Crosby contains bottomland swamp, mesic pine flatwoods, and mesic hammock, natural communities that provide valuable habitat for many species of birds and wildlife. The Crosby swamp drains into the Ortega River, which is a tributary to the St Johns River.
Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic last spring, our activities at Crosby have been reduced to avoid excess contact between volunteers. Instead, we’ve started hosting Open House events each month since September to give folks an opportunity to enjoy nature in our favorite place. These have been carefully run to avoid congregating groups of people. I want to thank chapter president Carol Bailey-White for organizing a responsible process for visitors to check-in and enter the sanctuary. I would also like to thank all the volunteers who have come out to help with the Open House events so far!
We had help this fall from Florida Master Naturalist Program Freshwater Systems Module students Johnna Bellen, Melissa Patterson, and Christine Watson, who added plants to our native garden and made a brochure listing some of the common native plants found at Crosby. They planted some very nice hummingbird/pollinator plants including milkweed, firespike, red salvia, and coral honeysuckle. Thank you to Johnna, Melissa, and Christine!
Our Education Director Cristina Tuckness initiated monthly Forest Bathing Meditation sessions at Crosby in November. The first session was a success! I can’t wait to participate myself in December. I spoke to one participant who said they got to watch a frog battle with an earthworm for quite some time before the worm got away!
This fall, several local Clay County resident birders of note have been posting their birding results from Crosby on eBird.org. They include Jeff Graham, Jessica Dyzel, Donna Foley, Andrea Banks, and Connie Long. Other birders with notable postings on eBird from Crosby this fall include Tasso Cocoves, Carly Wainwright, Shane Carroll, Kevin Blalock, Alexander Sullivan, Carol Bailey-White, Pete Johnson, and Leigh Gardner.
Warblers spotted at Crosby this fall include: Golden-winged Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Ovenbird, Orange-crowned Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-throated Warbler, Pine Warbler, Palm Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, and Yellow-rumped Warbler - whew!
Other notable or new species identified this fall include: Least Flycatcher, Acadian Flycatcher, Scarlet Tanager, Short-tailed Hawk, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Swainson’s Thrush, Wood Thrush, Sedge Wren, Eastern Screech-Owl, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Merlin.
The number of bird species documented at Crosby on eBird has increased significantly this fall from about 130 species to 144 species as of November 30! There were 103 species documented this year between September 19 and November 30 alone. We have really made significant progress toward reaching a longtime goal of documenting 150 species at Crosby. What a bright spot in the not-so-bright year of 2020! Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen!
--Pete Johnson, Crosby Sanctuary Manager
Tuesday, December 1, 2020 is Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving to support organizations that are making positive changes in our world. Please consider a gift to our chapter to help us continue our work to connect people with nature through informational programs, fun and interactive online events, educational outreach, volunteer opportunities, and access to our wild and beautiful Crosby Sanctuary conservation property in Orange Park. Thank you!
As we announced previously, no hosted field trips or indoor gatherings are planned for this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But we still have some fun and informative events planned! Here's what's coming up for December:
Wishing you good health and happiness this holiday season and always. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Duval Audubon Society, Inc.