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Audubon’s Roots Entwined with Parque Juárez

Audubon celebrates 50_2

By April Gaydos

In preparing for our pollinator garden dedication at Parque Juârez earlier this month, I got to thinking what better place for Audubon de México to launch its 50th anniversary celebrations than Parque Juárez where Audubon’s roots are deeply planted?

Our entwinement with the park dates back to the late ’50s with the arrival of Lillian Birkenstein. Lillian lived near the park and visited it frequently. When she noticed the boys killing birds with their slingshots, Lillian decided to start an Audubon chapter to promote the appreciation of birds. In 1967, one of the first (if not the first) Audubon chapters in Latin America was officially recognized here in San Miguel.

When Bob Haas became Audubon president in the late ’80s, he led the effort to restore Parque Juárez, which had declined after years of neglect. After the municipal government gave Bob the go-ahead, he began to gather funding for tools, plants, laborers, and volunteers to improve the park’s pathways, establish new trees and plants, and install an irrigation system.

In the early 2000’s, after a new Audubon president came on board and Audubon’s focus shifted toward other environmental priorities, Bob helped form a new organization, Amigos del Parque. Among its achievements, Amigos del Parque transformed the park’s children’s play area into the beautiful site we know today.

At the time Audubon started its Niños y Naturaleza program in 2015, we saw in Parque Juárez the opportunity to create a magical garden for wildlife in the city. Working with the Department of Ecology, we selected a space in the park and invited our students to come help plant! With 90 children plus volunteers and donations for plants from Franke’s Vivero, the Garden Club of San Miguel, and Bodega Organica,[P1] we soon had created a habitat especially for pollinators and a place to engage our students and park visitors in the joys and benefits of gardening for wildlife.

As the garden has matured and expanded over time, people have taken greater notice. They now regularly stop by to view the butterflies and hummingbirds, appreciate the beauty of the garden setting and to learn about the plants. Some even lend a hand when our volunteer gardeners are weeding or digging in new plants.

And just as our garden has grown, so has our appreciation of Parque Juárez grown as well. We see how it is used by people as a place to seek shelter from the heat, to enjoy the outdoors, to exercise, play, walk the dog, and meet up with friends for conversation. We think that people are also beginning to see it as a home for nature: a habitat for native birds, butterflies, and bees and a waystation for migratory birds and butterflies. Our city’s green living room is a place where people and nature can become entwined.



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