The University of New Orleans has received a $34,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to create an urban bird habitat on campus and support educational programming connected to environmental conservation. The grant will fund habitat restoration, the creation of a birding trail on campus and educational experiences for UNO TRiO Upward Bound students.
“New Orleans is a key stopover for migrating birds as they travel along the Mississippi Flyway,” said Dan Shahar, assistant professor of philosophy and the grant’s lead co-principal investigator. “However, birds face serious challenges here due to a lack of habitat, pollution and insufficient awareness of ways we can help them. With its 195-acre campus on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, and rich connections with diverse and underserved students, the University of New Orleans has unique potential to help.”
This project will establish a 1-mile birding trail at UNO—with interpretive signage, designated parking and an accompanying website—and initiate regular bird counts to monitor populations along the route. The Greater New Orleans chapters of the Native Plant Initiative and Louisiana Master Naturalists will work with volunteers to plant 120 native trees and shrubs at two sites along the trail—totaling 4 acres, enhancing campus canopy and providing birds with needed refuge.
With the Pontchartrain Conservancy, UNO will organize twice-yearly trash cleanups along the Lake Pontchartrain lakefront. UNO’s Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences, Orleans Audubon Society and the Pontchartrain Conservancy will deliver 375 expert-led, hands- on environmental educational experiences to UNO TRiO Upward Bound students, empowering them to become lovers and stewards of the natural environment in their community and beyond, according to Shahar.
“Especially in the aftermath of another major storm that has further reduced our city's tree canopy and disrupted education for school-age children, we are thrilled that we will be able to make some tangible progress in these areas,” said Shahar, who studies environmental philosophy and is a member of UNO’s Urban Entrepreneurship and Policy Institute.
Other co-principal investigators on the grant are Elizabeth Sigler and John Bishop in the UNO Office of Research.
UNO Upward Bound is a federally funded TRiO program that provides support to participants in their preparation for college entrance. It serves high school students from low-income families, as well as high school students in which neither parent holds a bachelor's degree. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.