“Successes and Challenges from a Governance Perspective”
We take so much for granted today. I remember in one of our first Learn About ForestsTM programs, John Green, a naturalist, was beginning his lesson on watersheds and asked the youth where their water came from. One young boy said “from the faucet.” We knew that urban youth didn’t have access to rural forests and were disconnected from nature but we had no idea how disconnected.
Caring for the environment should be everyone’s concern, but how can you be concerned for something you have never experienced? Young people will inherit the earth and be the next caretakers. They need to understand and experience the natural world so they can see their place and responsibility in it. In order to make that happen, we have to build a bridge between those who have the knowledge and resources and those who are disconnected. We must connect the disconnected. Today this is more important than ever.
We are committed to making these first-time experiences in nature happen for urban youth. I have had to convince adults that a first-hand experience in nature for an urban youth has value – that it is transformative and makes a difference, that nature is a youth development tool, wide in its application, boundless in its inherent possibilities.
There are many challenges on the path to realizing our vision. In order to realize the great potential for this promising line of work – making a difference in both our natural world and the lives of urban youth – there is a need for more leadership and resource support. Money is our biggest challenge, but we have been smart in our approach. Partnering with others and using volunteers has effectively reduced our overhead and made the work more meaningful; by building a community of leaders, we extend the reach of our work.
In years past, there were several foundation officers in Boston that I could talk with who saw value in Eagle Eye’s mission. Now, sadly, many funders have changed their focus. I come from a culture of face-to-face dialogue; now there is no time to talk – many foundations do not have the staff to meet with smaller community organizations. We operate differently from large non-profits. We have a big, evolving story to tell, and it is a challenge to convey that story with all its nuances: the smiles and laughter, the new insights, the lingering memories, the inner shifts that take place; seeing the world through new “Eagle” eyes.
We have many individual donors that have thankfully continued to give even in difficult economic times. We continue to deepen our relationships with these donors. We have an annual Hike-a-thon and other donor events, as well as opportunities for old and new donors to interact with youth and adults in nature. Please consider becoming a part of the Eagle Eye family. While Eagle Eye and other organizations have provided many needed services to urban youth, communities of color are still under represented in the environmental field; urban youth often do not feel the peace and experience the magic of nature because of a lack of access. These facts keep me motivated to persevere no matter the economic climate. I trust they will inspire you to action too.
Peace, Love and Spirit, Anthony Sanchez