Students are ambassadors for one of the more beautiful imperiled birds in the Americas: The cerulean warbler.
Organized by the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, American Bird Conservancys Colombian partner Fundación ProAves, and the Cerulean Warbler Technical Group, the idea was simple: Invite high school science and Spanish teachers to participate in a pen-pal program to link students living in the Appalachians of the U.S. to the Andes of Colombia.
The common theme to get them started was the cerulean warbler, which needs to have habitat restored in both mountainous regions if it is to stop its population decline. Like other neotropical migrants, it spends winters in South and Central America, but summers in North America, making preserving the species complicated by geography.
In the U.S., coal mining -- particularly mountaintop removal coal mining -- is the issue. In Colombia it is coffee growing, and shade-grown coffee as the solution. The initiative got big enough that a representative from the United Nations Environment Program delivered the letters from the Colombian students.
"The Cerulean Warbler is a focal species for neotropical migrant bird conservation in both Appalachia and the Andes," said American Bird Conservancy's Brian Smith, Coordinator of the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture. "Programs such as this that use this beautiful warbler to reach out to children across the hemisphere and heighten awareness of bird habitat conservation are a great investment that can have a lasting impact with the conservationists of tomorrow."
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