The Urban Wild

Hi there! My name is Tori Baron and I am the Conservation and Outreach Fellow for the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. If you have never heard or visited the Audubon Center, drop what you are doing now and come visit because it is hands down the most beautiful place in Columbus. Smack dab in the middle of the city sits an oasis of wetlands and grassy fields that yield native plants of all colors, sizes and smells and attract birds, butterflies, and honeybees. Originally an impound lot and industrial park, the center, built in 2009, embraces the juxtaposition that exists between natural and urban landscapes. I could spend the rest of this post talking about the functional aesthetics of the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, but I truly encourage you to experience this beautiful space for yourself.

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On my first day, I was given a list of focuses for this fellowship but also told that no two days would be the same and to be up for everything. There is never a dull moment when surrounded by this much urban and wildlife! One of my main goals this summer is to get the word out about the Grange Insurance Audubon Center and all of the programs it offers. This shouldn’t be too difficult for me because I swoon over my summer workplace in everyday conversation because it really is my favorite space in Columbus. My first project is setting up a Snapchat so go follow @grange_audubon!

In addition to turtles, frogs, (lots of) birds, squirrels, whistlepigs, and butterflies, I have had the privilege of hanging out with and photographing some amazing preschoolers this week who were here for the Audubon Adventure Camp. I loved capturing their sweet faces as they were captivated by the natural world that they might not get to see every day around their homes.  The environment is wonderful for the basic functions it serves such as clean air and water, but my favorite thing about nature is when people (especially young ones) connect with something as simple as a daisy or a Cardinal and it lights up their world, even if just for a moment.

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I am so thankful for the Columbus Foundation for providing me with this fellowship and that I get to wake up every day excited to work with some pretty amazing and dedicated individuals. It is so clear that everyone from the Executive Director  to daily volunteers at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center is working towards the mission of preserving and connecting people to the natural environment.  I’m also super excited to get to know the other fellows and hear all about their experiences with their nonprofits, we’ve got a great group of big hearts for Columbus!

Peace and trees,

Tori

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