By: Urban Stewardship Team, ENVR 350 Environmental Politics
Audubon Dakota is working to promote green spaces in the Fargo-Moorhead community through their new Urban Stewardship Program. With over 20 nature parks in the area, this program aims to “cultivate interest among FM citizens in the upkeep and wellbeing of the enhanced areas created by the Urban Woods and Prairies Initiative, and to facilitate hands-on engagement and education opportunities for members of the community of all ages,” according to the Audubon Dakota website. The Urban Woods and Prairies Initiative restores key ecological functions along the Red River, including reduced threat for flooding and protecting wildlife habitats. As a new program, Urban Stewardship has 20 stewards ranging from undergraduate students to working professionals.
Mike Bush, the Communications and Engagement Coordinator at Audubon Dakota, started up this program to engage people in the mission of the non-profit organization. After reflecting on his educational experience, Bush is attempting to give students opportunities to volunteer and promote conservation. As a former adjunct instructor at Concordia College in the Biology Department, he also
was trying to determine ways to help provide undergraduates opportunities to engage in “hands-on conservation biology.”
In an urban setting such as the Fargo-Moorhead community, green spaces are especially crucial for wildlife and humans. Urban expansion in many communities have turned various wetlands, woodlands, and other eco-spaces, which all play vital ecological roles, into built- up areas. To maintain the well-being and health of the land, we must maintain the continuity of a regional landscape pattern, protect biodiversity, and conserve soil and water to provide habitats that meet the needs of native wildlife and vegetation.
For humans, green spaces provide areas to enjoy and learn about nature, instilling a strong sense of community. Bush believes “engaging people with the outdoors at a young age is critical for fostering an ethos of conservation and love of the outdoors that helps define the Upper Midwest.” Audubon Dakota leads several different events to educate the community about wildlife and being responsible citizens of the earth. Partnering with local schools, businesses, and nonprofits has allowed Audubon Dakota to reach a wider audience with these educational events.
Fargo-Moorhead has many green spaces that the community can and should take advantage of. Pictured below is River Oaks Park in Moorhead and Mike Bush speaking with a group of Fargo high school students at Forest River in Fargo. These spaces are ideal for picnics, hikes, get togethers, outdoor workouts, sports, dog walks, and so much more. You can also practice mindfulness, naturally, by setting aside all your troubles and immerse yourself in nature by hearing the rustle of leaves and the songs of the birds. It’s mindfulness meditation at its most simple!
The parks also offer amenities such as fields, playgrounds, picnic tables, sports courts, and even outdoor skating rinks for the winter. Feel a greater sense of revitalization, energy, and enjoyment by reconnecting with nature while learning about wildlife and conservation. If you are looking for a break from studying, working, or everyday routine, explore the beautiful outdoor spaces that Fargo-Moorhead offers!