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Audubon in Action
People, efforts, and victories of the National Audubon Society.

A Home Run for Herons
Baseball supports America’s other favorite pastime.


At a York ballpark on a picture-perfect day, Jose Diaz is about to fulfill an American dream. Audubon Pennsylvania and the York Revolution, a minor league baseball team, have invited him to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. “I’m really nervous,” confesses the senior at William Penn High School. “I’ve never thrown a baseball.” Sure enough, he repeatedly drops a ball he’s tossing in the air.

Diaz is being honored today for his stardom on other fields. He’s taken a leading role in a three-year effort by Audubon Pennsylvania and the York Audubon Society to restore the city’s Kiwanis Lake, an Important Bird Area, and other watersheds nearby. For the project, about 500 high school students have planted more than 1,000 native trees and shrubs. As a result, yellow-crowned and black-crowned night herons and great egrets have taken up residence to nest and shelter their young. This IBA is the only site in Pennsylvania where these three state endangered species nest in close proximity.

Before today’s game the Revolution lets Phil Wallis, Audubon Pennsylvania’s executive director, use the first-base line as a pulpit. “Their home is your home,” he tells the crowd. “Let’s not let the endangered species be forgotten!” In the stands are hundreds of kids who helped with the planting; they’re able to attend today’s game thanks to discounted tickets that Audubon raised funds to cover. “If you are going to be a community team, you to need to earn its respect,” says Matt O’Brien, the Revolution’s general manager.

Environmental awareness is growing at ballparks. This year the Minnesota Twins have planted 100 trees in state parks each time a Twins pitcher breaks an opponent’s bat. In stadiums across the country, recycling programs and waterless urinals are becoming as commonplace as Cracker Jack.

Diaz’s pitch takes one bounce and lands softly in the catcher’s mitt. His thoughts are already drifting, he says, to the birds at Kiwanis Lake. “Providing a home to many birds is so important to the future,” he says. While lots of his classmates spent this summer playing sports or taking it easy, Diaz had an Audubon internship studying, among other things, West Nile virus.—David Seideman

 

Women in Conservation
Since 2004 Audubon has recognized women in conservation with its prestigious Rachel Carson Award. Here are the 2010 winners. (For more on the winners, click here.)

Suzanne Lewis
Superintendent, Yellowstone National Park
“Our national parks keep the memories of great landscapes and wildlife, of wonderful historic events that have occurred in our nation, and they keep them fresh in our minds for numerous generations.”

Beth Stevens
Senior Vice President, Environmental Affairs, The Walt Disney Company
“Kids really care about the planet. They’re worried about it. They’re worried about the planet they’re going to inherit, and they want to know what to do.”

Fernanda M. Kellogg
President, The Tiffany & Co. Foundation
“Somewhere along the line, we all learn about ivory and elephants, about turtles and tortoise shells. Now we have to understand that coral needs to remain in the oceans.”

Isabella Rossellini
Actress, Director, and Writer
“I always wanted to make films about animals. I was a beauty, and I made my life as a model and as an actress, and when that came to an end because I got old, I thought, ‘Now it’s time to do what I wanted to do.’ ”

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Women in Conservation
The four winners of Audubon’s 2010 Rachel Carson Award discuss what the environment means to them.