Written by Emma Counce
A group of passionate students at the University of Mississippi have banded together this semester in the name of the land, the community, and its resources and creatures to create the Magnolia Grove Audubon Campus Chapter. The campus chapters initiative is a new program from National Audubon Society with the hopes of engaging young people in environmental awareness and advocacy with a conservation mindset. The Magnolia Grove campus chapter at the University of Mississippi and the Rust College campus chapter in Holly Springs, MS are the newest registered chapters nationwide.
Campus chapter president, Rachel Anderson, shared that, “The idea of being able to share and develop ideas to improve our campus and community with a compassionate group of people is what sparked my desire to help start this up.” With the help of Conservation Education Manager at the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center (SPAC), Mitch Robinson, Rachel gathered a group of interested students to discuss the hopes and vision of what Magnolia Grove could and would become. A name was chosen, leadership positions elected, and potential events and projects discussed. After that, Rachel submitted the application and the Magnolia Grove Campus Audubon Chapter was approved and registered.
The vision of the Magnolia Grove chapter is to create a more mindful, diverse, and bird friendly community at Ole Miss, and to create a new generation of supporters for the conservation movement as a whole. They plan to engage in conservation and habitat creation based projects at Ole Miss and beyond, and to provide recreational and social opportunities for birding and conservation. The chapter is not exclusive to advancedbirders, but rather to anyone with a past or present connection to their environment, their community, and all the plants, animals, and people that call it home.
Mitch Robinson recognized that, “just as biodiversity strengthens natural systems, the diversity of human experience strengthens our conservation efforts for the benefit of nature and all human beings,” and additionally, “Respect, inclusion, and opportunity for people of all backgrounds, lifestyles and perspectives will attract the best ideas and harness the greatest passion to shape a healthier, more vibrant future for all of us who share our planet.” The students hope to partner with the Rust College chapter to reach outside of the Oxford-University community. Rachel expanded on this point saying, “so far, we are collaborating with Rust College in Holly Springs to involve the broader community with our conservation efforts, and we are reaching out to the international students on campus.”
Since the creation of the chapter, exciting developments have already taken place. A birding trip to Bailey’s Woods to observe the beauty of spring migration and learn a little bit about the green spaces of our community.
Just last week the chapter was able to go birding with Dr. Drew Lanham, the 2019 Earth Day keynote speaker. Also a team from National Audubon Society came to meet with leaders and members from the chapter to discuss future projects and how to reach out to the Ole Miss community. A trip to Strawberry Plains Audubon Center was arranged where Magnolia Grove was able to meet and spend a fun evening with students from the Rust College chapter including pizza and a wagon ride around the property.
Learn more about these students or join their conservation journey by following them on Instagram @magnoliagroveaudubon and joining their Facebook group at Magnolia Grove Audubon Student Conservation Chapter. For questions, or to join, contact firstname.lastname@example.org