Written by Janelle Wicks

On May 26th, 2020, the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (FOMR) Executive Committee unanimously approved the adoption of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Statement. It took 2 months to workshop and craft before putting it to a vote. We are proud of its assertions and are committed to its principles.

Our public lands belong to everyone. The Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge support appropriate access to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for all people, regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity or cultural background.

The Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge strive to accomplish this through:
– Working toward environmental equity so that all cultures present within the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge community are recognized, honored and fully included in all Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge activities and programs.
– Ensuring cultural inclusion within our Board of Directors and staff.
– Utilizing a diversity of volunteers to accomplish a broad range of organizational activities consistent with the management of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Accepted by the Board by unanimous affirmative vote on May 26th, 2020

Pretty words, but what does it mean?

We live in a world where birding feels exclusionary to many. We live in a world where women still feel unsafe outdoors. We live in a world where a BIPOC individual is commonly harassed while recreating. These realities do not have to be seen or experienced by any of us personally for them to be true and deeply impact a person’s experience in spaces that exist for everyone, equally.

As we all learn to be better allies to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and advocate for changes to a system that upholds inequities and oppression we must acknowledge these realities. We must actively work to dismantle the system which upholds them. We believe that it is our responsibility to be an active participant, and where appropriate a leader, in opposing of systemic racism, misogyny, homophobia and able-ism on Public Lands.

We must actively support the movement seeking justice for lives lost and those still threatened. We are fully committed to making space for and lifting the voices of black and indigenous people of color within our birding communities and more broadly. We believe in the principle that Public Lands and natural spaces should be safe and welcoming for all people.

The Friends of Malheur NWR are starting this journey. We are moved by the moment and were inspired by #BlackBirdersWeek. We are learning that we have much to learn, but we are ready. In the coming months we will be having candid conversations with our partners about what we can do to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in everything that we do.


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If you missed #BlackBirdersWeek there are still plenty of ways to tap into the discussions that were had and follow the incredible folx who put it together!

Search any of the hashtags above on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to see great #BlackBirdersWeek content.

Lastly, here is an incredible list of resources that has been compiled by Michigan Audubon Society in their Reflection on Black Birders Week.

Rules for the Black Birdwatcher – With Drew Lanham
BirdNote. Feb. 28, 2015

Birding While Black
By J. Drew Lanham. Literary Hub; Sept. 22, 2016

Bird-Watching While Black: A Wildlife Ecologist Shares His Tips | Short Film Showcase
National Geographic. Nov. 6, 2016

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair With Nature
By J. Drew Lanham. June 13, 2017

‘Black Birders Week’ Promotes Diversity and Takes on Racism in the Outdoors
By Jillian Mock, National Audubon Society, June 1, 2020

First, Listen. Then, Learn: Anti-Racism Resources For White People
By Julia Wuench. Forbes; June 2, 2020

These Black nature lovers are busting stereotypes, one cool bird at a time
By AJ Willingham. CNN; June 3, 2020

Black Birders Week: An Ode to Our Allies
By Crystal Johnson. June 4, 2020

Birding While Black: A Candid Conversation — Session One
National Audubon Society Facebook Live; June 4, 2020

Birding While Black: A Candid Conversation — Session Two
National Audubon Society Facebook Live; June 4, 2020

Black Birding Is About Hope
By Kathleen Hou. The Cut; June 4, 2020

7 Anti-Racist Books Recommended by Educators and Activists
By The Editors. The Strategist; June 5, 2020

Racist Birding Incident Sparks Joyful Online Event #BlackBirdersWeek
By Julie Grant. The Allegheny Front; June 5, 2020  

Black Birders Call Out Racism, Say Nature Should Be for Everyone
By Andrea Thompson. Scientific American; June 5, 2020

Birding While Black: Jason Ward On Central Park Video, Racism And His Passion For Birds
Karyn Miller-Medzon produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Peter O’Dowd.
This segment aired on June 9, 2020.

Birds of North America with Jason Ward
Video series following Jason Ward as he travels around the United States meeting birders and bird enthusiasts of all kinds. Currently 24 videos in the series.