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Overheard Conversations of Hope
By: Brenda, Director of Education and Volunteers, Audubon Zoo
There are times as an educator or conservation ideologist that I think I may be hitting my head against a wall and that perhaps we can’t make a difference and then a light will shine through and I can continue on my mission. Today was one of those days when the light shined.
It started early in the day as a young teacher working at our zoo partner school passed my open window with a tray full of coffee cups. He was explaining to a fellow visiting teacher that “we” only drink shade-grown coffee and that is important for the environment and biodiversity. I almost did the “coffee spew” of ultimate surprise! We have been quietly preaching the word of the importance of shade- grown coffee through labeling on our departmental coffee carafes. Shade-grown" coffee is grown under a canopy of diverse species of shade trees, often on small farms using traditional techniques. Among the many benefits of using shade-grown coffee production methods, in contrast to sun-grown coffee, are that it provides food and shelter for songbirds, as well as habitat for numerous other species of animals and plants.
Somebody was actually reading and listening to our quiet message. I was delighted. Two hours later I could hear the click of high heeled shoes on the sidewalk and knew some “fancy ladies” were walking by. They were chatting loudly and I caught this glorious snippet of conversation. “ Twenty eight Whooping Cranes were known to be on the planet and two of them were here!” What!! I almost fell out of my chair. These ladies were talking knowingly about Whooping Cranes and their endangered status. Was this day for real?
I was content for this to be the end of a wonderful day when I walked by the zoo partner school class having their lunch. Bananas were the fruit of the meal and a young boy said to his partner, “Look the frog is here! We can eat this banana and the animals will be safe. “ The little green frog sticker is recognized as a symbol of environmental, social and economic sustainability. Look for Rainforest Alliance stickers on your food. We teach the students about big concepts like sustainability and environmental stewardship through simple things like looking for a green frog sticker. They were listening. They heard.
There is hope and it makes me very happy.