Binoculars for Change

Encouraging Inner-City Black Girls to Consider Ornithology

When Tamia Carter, an NSU biology/pre-professional major, was asked if she knew any local zoologists, she realized that she didn’t.

Carter, a DNIMAS (Dozoretz National Institute for Mathematics and Applied Sciences) scholar, had been asked by Katina Barnes, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Butterfly Village Inc., to provide the girls attending the organization’s She Can STEM Academy with information on the topic. Carter turned to Dr. Ashley Haines, associate professor of biology, for assistance. As it turns out, Haines had worked with Barnes previously. Haines and Carter began working together to introduce the She Can STEM Academy participants to ornithology—the scientific study of birds.

Yet, what began as preparation for a presentation became much more to Carter. Although she knew it to some degree, as she worked on the presentation, the realization that Blacks and women were underrepresented in the field hit her. “Our presentation was about Corina Newsome and how she uses her platform to promote Black naturalists and birders, as well as awareness for social injustices, especially pertaining to the African American community,” said Carter. Newsome was an organizer of Black Birders Week in response to a racist incident experienced in New York’s Central Park by Black birder Christian Cooper. She is an advocate for environmental equality and believes in dismantling the myth that to be a naturalist you must grow up outside an urban environment.

Although Carter doesn’t bird watch, as she worked on the presentation, she became passionate about providing the girls with that opportunity. “So to go along with the presentation and introduce the girls to a new world of science, the thought to do a fundraiser and send binoculars to the girls to look at birds that are local to them was born,” Carter explained. “The point of the initiative is to promote exposure to girls who never even thought about ornithology as a career option or birding as a hobby.”

bluebird imageWith the help of Haines and NSU’s University Advancement, Carter launched the Binoculars for Change fundraising campaign. The goal is to provide 43 pairs of binoculars to the girls. The price of a pair of binoculars, which could be upwards of $100 or more, is a barrier to entering the birding community, according to the campaign material. However, an introduction and participation in birding could serve as the gateway to a career in the natural sciences and an appreciation for the environment, even in an urban setting. 

Carter noted that the girls are always well-prepared for presentations and come eager to learn. “I would love for this fundraiser to be a success because it would allow the girls to tap into their scientific minds, ask more questions and actually go seek answers…all of which embody the goals of science.”

Donate to Binoculars for Change here 

To learn more about Butterfly Village Inc. and She Can STEM Academy, go to https://www.butterflyvillageinc.org/