New Jersey Audubon cannot be silent in addressing the incidents of racial injustice that have roiled our country in recent weeks which include the tragic death of George Floyd and an act of discrimination against Christian Cooper, a Board Member of New York City Audubon, in Central Park. New Jersey Audubon extends our hearts and action to the families and communities that have been victimized and marginalized for far too long. New Jersey Audubon stands with you and always will.

First and foremost, at NJA we believe that CONSERVATION IS FOR ALL. We have held that belief at our core for decades as reflected through our education team’s Nature for All initiative. In the past several years we have moved to formalize that ethos as a major cornerstone of our organization through our diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) efforts. Our DEIJ initiatives work to ensure that we are making our programs accessible and welcoming to all New Jersey residents and visitors, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or socio-economic status.

Additionally, much of our programming platform focuses on underserved and diverse communities where children have few opportunities to experience nature, and adult leaders, teachers or caregivers do not have the experience or resources to facilitate meaningful and safe outdoor learning experiences. Our Government Relations team runs two large coalitions with DEIJ as a core value. Stewardship is restoring habitat with people from diverse backgrounds. Research is leading cross-hemispheric shorebird conservation with great biologists from South America. Our birding festivals and podcasts are featuring diverse speakers and leaders.

With that being said, we have so much work to do to open the doors of the conservation to all people, and to facilitate an open dialogue around DEIJ in the conservation community. As we further integrate and elevate DEIJ into all aspects of our work, we will use every media and program platform at our disposal to promote diverse voices in our community, and to actively engage new partners to ensure conservation is a big tent; a tent which is inviting, inclusive, diverse, just and equitable.

Now is the time for an open conversation and actions about DEIJ including race in conservation. Now is the time for people and organizations to do all that they can to fight racial and other forms of injustice in our movement. And New Jersey Audubon commits to doing everything in our power to deepen our resolve as a conservation thought leader.

To close, I would like to share our official DEIJ Organizational Statement that was approved on March 2, 2020 by New Jersey Audubon’s DEIJ Task Force:

New Jersey Audubon is committed to connecting all people with nature and stewarding the nature of today for all people of tomorrow.

We will build and integrate our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice into our vision and mission, as well as our conservation priorities and organizational structure.

By celebrating New Jersey’s diversity as a strength and affirming everyone has a right to enjoy and conserve nature, we are able to carry out our work with mindfulness and inclusivity. Through reaching out beyond our centers to connect all people with nature where they live, work, and play, we endeavor to promote a greater understanding and respect for diversity and nature by all whose lives we touch.

While statements are important, actions matter. This will be a transformational and rewarding journey which will push us all in ways we can’t begin to imagine. We look forward to taking this journey with you, our loyal members and donors, as we seek to reach the vision of conservation as a big diverse, inclusive, equitable and just tent.

Eric Stiles
President and CEO
New Jersey Audubon