This spring students from five Philadelphia schools will go birding thanks to funding raised by the In Color Birding Club.
The club, launched during the pandemic by Upper Darby birder Jason Hall, committed to not only providing a space for adult BIPOC birders, but also offering a gateway to birding for local children.
Club board member Katrina Clark, at the time a teacher at The Workshop School, a School District of Philadelphia high school in West Philadelphia, suggested that the club help pay for buses. Thousands of students could benefit from field trips to local birding hotspots, she reasoned, but the district lacks the funds to pay for transportation. “One of the hardest things to get money for was a bus,” she says.
The students were spellbound, paying attention to every single word.”
— Katrina Clark, In Color Birding Club board member
She had taken classes by bus to visit the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge thanks to funding from the Friends of Heinz Refuge. Three members of In Color Birding Club, including Hall, joined the Workshop School field trip. Clark spoke of the power of having her students, the majority of whom are Black, spend time with Black adults who are passionate about science and nature. “The students were spellbound, paying attention to every single word.”
While visiting the Heinz Refuge was a powerful experience, they needed to find funding that would help students visit other sites, which is of particular importance for schools located farther from the refuge in Northwest, North or Northeast Philadelphia. “We don’t ever want to have a field trip that will be limited due to cost,” Clark says. “I suggested to board members that we can make a difference paying for transportation.”
She estimated that $250 to $300 could pay for one bus, which transports about one and a half classrooms. Two or three buses can accommodate an entire grade from a school. “We can raise money and put that right out into getting teachers and students out.”
The club raised enough money for six buses and posted the application for teachers to apply in the fall of 2022. In January they awarded their grants to teachers from The U School (two classes), Thomas K. Finletter School, Frankford High School and Cook-Wissahickon School in the School District of Philadelphia and one private school, the Jubilee School in West Philadelphia.
Clark says that the club, which accepts donations on its website to support its educational work, plans to continue issuing school bus grants twice a year.