All of us at Audubon are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life and the impact of the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri. While our very own Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon center (WGCAC) staff and facility were spared, hundreds of churches, businesses and public buildings were devastated—more than 60% of Joplin’s schools have been destroyed or damaged, and thousands of homes and other places children go have been decimated in a 13 square mile path of the tornado. The toll and reconstruction effort for both people’s lives and the community will be massive. WGCAC has long partnered with the Joplin region and is ready to help now, and in the difficult months and years ahead.
There is a strong body of research confirming that interaction with nature reduces stress, increases a sense of coherence and belonging, improves self-confidence and fosters a broader sense of community. Our hope is WGCAC will provide all of these in a safe and soothing environment for children and families during this initial time of despair and the coming years ahead of healing.
In keeping with the Center’s role as a vital community resource for nature education and inspiration, we are launching Operation Backyard Recovery. This program focuses on both the short-term and long-term issues our community now faces. Audubon is reaching out to our local partners, some of the most disadvanteged, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, Association for the Blind, Turnaaround Ranch, and the Autism Center, to offer additional summer camps and environmental education programs free of charge during the duration of this crisis. Programs will be tailored to integrate art therapy, nature journaling, volunteerism opportunities, wildlife identificationand obeservation, and other learning activities to help the community of Joplin, especially children, experience the healing power of nature.
While our thoughts are first and foremost with the people who have experienced complete devastation, we also realize the homes and habitats for birds and other wildlife have also been destroyed. Operation Backyard Recovery will also focus on the long-term issue of replacing native habitat lost during the storm and working with homeowners to restore their yards with bird- and wildlife-friendly plant species. We will build upon existing partnerships with the city, schools and civic organizations to plan and hold local workshops that promote our Audubon at Home program explain the benefits of using native plants in community and residential landscapes, and the benefit of rain gardens, erosion control and water quality, and other efforts that promote healthy and ecologically beneficial backyards.
The Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center has long partnered with the Joplin region and stands at the ready to help the city—it will take a massive effort to restore this community for people, and for birds and other wildlife.
Please join us and donate to help children and families in the Joplin community cope with this crisis, and help us work with our community partners to rebuild the urban forest.
Thank you for the support shown to Joplin.