Your Monthly News & Updates
What Ever Happened to UPARR?
by Paul J. Baicich

Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park West in the Philadelphia Area
   Photo Credit: Frederikto

Established by Congress in 1978, UPARR (Urban Park and Recreation Recovery) was authorized to the tune of $725 million over five years to provide matching grants and technical assistance to economically distressed urban communities. Administered by the National Park Service in the Department of the Interior, the program was intended to provide direct federal assistance to urban localities for rehabilitation of critically needed recreation and park facilities. It was also intended to eventually become a stand-alone complement to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (UPARR funding was to come from general funds, however, while LWCF was expected to come from offshore oil and gas revenue in the Treasury.)
Sadly, UPARR has not been funded since 2002. But since its inception, over $307 million was appropriated to UPPAR for urban recreation and environmental education grants to economically distressed neighborhoods in over 40 states. Few urban-park-and-outdoor advocates today are aware of this recent history and aware of the possibilities to revive the most creative aspects of UPARR.
Fortunately, parts of the UPARR message have arisen again. Over the past three years, the White House has requested a revived UPARR, with funding up to $25 million. Instead, Congress has reduced this to an Outdoor Recreation Legacy Program (ORLP), as a tiny slice of LWCF, functioning as a UPARR-like urban-park-delivery vehicle. This smaller, almost experimental effort, had $3 million per year available for a couple of years, and now with this cycle, (FY16) $12 million available. Currently, about two small proposals per state are encouraged, and the ORLP is becoming part of the discussion over the fate and the future of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
These recent proposals include a number of environmental-education-related activities, and extend to trails and urban revitalization, often addressing the state of derelict parks.
Bird educators should be aware of efforts for a revived UPARR, including it as part of our own education agenda. We ought to be aware of the efforts of the National Recreation and Park Association (including a recent study by NRPA on support for local parks) and many others to revive UPARR, and be aware of the discussion among members of Congress edging toward that possibility.
Decision-makers need to be pushed, and we should think of ways to connect to UPARR when discussing urban needs and bird education.
A Baby Owl or a Goatsucker at Esperanza Elementary? A Cryptic Halloween Visitor
Written by fifth-grade Esperanza Elementary School students Kaya Johnson and Cristian Torres with their Principal, Brad Rumble

"Mr. Rumble, there's a baby owl on the playground!" exclaimed Robbyn, a first-grade student at Esperanza Elementary School on Wilshire Blvd. just west of downtown Los Angeles. It was the day before Halloween 2015 and Mr. Rumble, the school's principal, thought this might be a Halloween prank. But, as any birder would, he went with Robbyn to take a look.

Unbelievably, there, on the asphalt of a corner of the playground, was not an owl but a Common Poorwill. It was 9:15 a.m. and in fifteen minutes 130 first-graders would be playing four-square mere feet from our unexpected visitor. What to do? Cordon off the area around the bird, grab a bunch of field guides and create an impromptu observation site for an autumn migration species.

A member of the Goatsucker family, the Common Poorwill (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii) usually is nocturnal. As students read about the poorwill they hypothesized that our bird was just trying to get some shut-eye during its southbound migration. Its cryptic color pattern helped it camouflage so well that some students thought they were looking at a pine cone. No one could believe this species actually hibernates during winter.
Even though there were nearly 900 students on campus, not one of them disturbed the bird. One complication: at 1:15 p.m. hundreds of students, parents and staff members would gather on the poorwill's playground for the annual Halloween parade. Student leaders and educators debated what to do. In the end not even Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and scores of super-heroes and princesses could disturb our nocturnal visitor's slumber.

That evening, as Mr. Rumble was leaving campus, he observed the poorwill suddenly lift off and begin to fly low into the night. Though on campus just the one day, this bird captivated an entire school community and left us wanting to know more about it. For us, the Common Poorwill is anything but common.

This story was originally written for Natural History Museum's Nature Blog.
Photos provided by Principal Brad Rumble.
BirdSleuth Educator Retreat
Summer Bird Ed-Ventures

The summer offers a variety of educator and student bird education opportunities across the land. Many offer scholarships and early registration is required because only the early bird gets the worm.

This summer, from July 13-16, educators are invited to migrate to Sapsucker Woods and join the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's education team for a four-day BirdSleuth retreat in Ithaca, New York.  This retreat will highlight best practices and the latest engaging resources that will revitalize your educational program. Learn how to spark kids' science interest, support inquiry projects, and connect young people to their local environments, while meeting NGSS standards, STEM goals, and youth development objectives. 
July 17 to 22, National Audubon Society is celebrating 80 years at their famous Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine with a special week for educators, "Sharing Nature; An Educator's Week". This week is dedicated to teaching practical approaches and add inspiration to your environmental education curriculum during this action-packed program. Workshops using techniques in art, music, theater, journaling, and other disciplines will be presented, as well as a host of classic Audubon Camp field trips, including a boat trip to the restored Atlantic Puffin and Tern colony on Eastern Egg Rock, inter-tidal explorations, and hiking through Hog Island's unspoiled spruce-fir forest

For the 13 to 18-year old birder in your life, the American Birding Association hosts two week- long Young Birder Camps; Camp Avocet in Lewes, Delaware in August, and Camp Colorado in Estes Park, Colorado in July. These camps are full of educational workshops offering young birders the opportunity to increase their birding skills, learn about bird conservation, and about careers in ornithology. Above all, young birders have the opportunity to meet other young birders while experiencing great birds!
The Bird Education Network (BEN) was created following the February 2007 National Gathering, hosted by the Council for Environmental Education (CEE). BEN is a CEE initiative that seeks to connect and support a community of bird education professionals. 
Over 4,000 individuals representing 300 organizations receive communications and engage in professional dialogue through the BEN-administered Bird Education Listserv
To learn more about us, read the BEN publication, "Toward a National Bird Education Strategy".

The BEN Bulletin is provided free of charge. We appreciate any financial help possible to continue this effort. See your logo in the BEN Bulletin! Contact us for sponsorship opportunities.

Newsletter Maintained by:
Council for Environmental Education  | Flying WILD  |  BEN Committee