For twenty years, Rivers & Birds has taken over 6,000 local school children through multi-day, joyful outdoor adventures on public lands that teach environmental stewardship in a culturally relevant way.
Rivers & Birds has also led campaigns resulting in the largest historic permanent protections of watershed lands in Taos County, including the 242,000-acre Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in 2013, the 45,000-acre Columbine Hondo Wilderness in 2014, and the 13,420-acre Cerro del Yuta and 8,120-acre Rio San Antonio Wilderness Areas in 2019.
Rivers & Birds continues to work on permanent conservation protections for public lands and on expanding our environmental education outreach for public school students. We collaborate closely with diverse community organizations in both of these areas and have received many local and statewide awards for this outreach. Today our programs are an integral part of the community, fostering stronger connections between public elementary school students, teachers, parents, and community leaders.
Rivers & Birds’ Core Beliefs
At Rivers & Birds, we are committed to honoring the Earth and each other by spending time together in Nature. When we do this, we embody greater awareness of the interconnection of life and begin to heal ourselves and the planet.
Rivers & Birds’ main goals are to conserve our natural environment and to promote local cultural traditions that demonstrate balance with nature. We believe that, for a healthy, peaceful future we must all, children and adults alike, understand and strengthen our sense of self in relationship to the physical world around us.
In our educational programs we include our ancestors and cultural elders (both Native American and Hispanic) who have lived by an agricultural system that honors nature. Having a multigenerational, multicultural focus provides valuable role models for youth. Using positive learning adventures, we teach the connectedness of all systems: natural, living and manmade.
In public schools:
We lead students, teachers, parents, and community leaders, on scientific, historic, and cultural journeys into nature. These are designed to connect them to the environment. Our award-winning, hands-on, experiential Watershed Learning Project is presented yearly to 5th grade students. Since 2016, our Kids in the Monument program (4th grade) and Students Explore Wilderness (3rd grade) have also been successful.
In 2009, Rivers & Birds embarked on a wilderness conservation focus, when we began a human use survey of wilderness areas in our backyard in collaboration with Carson National Forest. We were surprised to learn that even though New Mexico is relatively low in human population and large in landmass, it has the lowest percentage of wilderness of any western state. It is important to ensure that these wilderness jewels are managed well and that potential wilderness areas are identified and promoted. Rivers & Birds is working in collaboration with The Wilderness Society, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, The New Mexico Wildlife Federation, and others on projects to protect New Mexico’s wild areas.
Our staff and associates have extensive experience in bird identification and riparian restoration efforts. We also provide broad ecological research experience and analysis expertise to local, state, and federal land managers.
In the community:
We offer educational workshops, hands-on restoration through tree plantings and guided hikes. These activities are fun and exciting ways to learn about our local environment.
“[We] sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide [them], it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused—a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love—then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put [them] on a diet of facts [they are] not ready to assimilate.”