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RTPI’s Project Wild America Youth Ambassadors Take a Walk on Jamestown’s Wild Side

Posted on Jul 9, 2018

RTPI’s Project Wild America (PWA) Youth Ambassadors are a cohort of high school and college students who have been recruited to work alongside RTPI biologists for the summer, exploring, recording, and bragging about the diversity of wildlife that thrives in Jamestown’s urban habitats. In the early 1900s, young Roger Tory Peterson roamed the streets, parks, and surroundings of Jamestown and was so inspired by the birds, moths, wildflowers, and other natural treasures he found, that it became the foundation for his celebrated international career. Now, a century later, our Youth Ambassadors are following in the footsteps of the inventor of the field guide, the inspiration for the modern day conservation movement, Roger Tory Peterson. For the fourth consecutive year, RTPI’s PWA Program is engaging local youth as ambassadors to their peers and the larger community, providing employment and green job skills to interested youth and helping to develop a broader and deeper appreciation of the natural resources that provide economic and recreational prospects for the community.

During the first week of the program, the PWA crew has been doing what Roger Tory Peterson did: studying natural history in our backyards, observing and documenting the many fascinating creatures that call Jamestown home. Below are first impressions from some of this year’s students.

Leanna Stratton: “Our first week was an adventure from sitting in the big halls of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute all the way to walking down the trails of the Chadakoin River. The first two days were setting up and getting to know what the program was all about. Roger was a very interesting guy who explored and loved what nature was about. He studied and logged many different species so that people today could have a better understanding of nature.”

Anna Burt: “This past week has been so much fun. I’ve already learned so much about the species of animals and plants all around me that I never took much notice of before Project Wild America. Everything is truly beautiful. We did bird banding earlier this week and we were able to hold the birds in our hands using the bander’s grip, a technique of holding the bird with two fingers curled around the head then the rest of your hand holding the bird’s body. I’ve had so many unique and amazing opportunities so far and it is only week one! I cannot wait to see what these next couple weeks will entail!”

Jasmine Buffone: “My first week of working as a PWA Youth Ambassador has been completed. It was filled with many new experiences and insights relating to Roger Tory Peterson. Whether it was learning about dragonflies or banding birds at the Chadakoin Park we gained knowledge about our community and explored the different species that thrive all around us. We also set up turtle traps and attended the bike path opening ceremony at the Chadakoin park. Every day brings something unique and fun to learn about. I’m looking forward to exploring the nature that surrounds Jamestown and can’t wait to see what the following weeks bring.”

The information gathered during the PWA program will be used to educate the community about the ecology of Jamestown, showcasing our region’s tremendous natural assets. The Greater Jamestown area is home to several threatened and endangered species living in man-made, urban environments. PWA’s research, monitoring, and outreach efforts in collaboration with community partners benefit those species and the habitats and resources they share with area residents.

Catch up with the PWA Youth Ambassadors during any of a number of public outreach events (see https://projectwildamerica.org/blog/ for their schedule); join these budding young scientists as they investigate our urban ecosystem; follow their experiences and learn about their discoveries by visiting their website (https://projectwildamerica.org/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/projectwildamerica/).