Joe Bird was a man who devoted himself quietly and without fanfare to the preservation of open lands, the well-being of children and acts of kindness. His modesty and the scope of his good works was not fully revealed until many who knew and loved him gathered to mourn his untimely death in 1997.  

There is a great deal going on in Trenton a decade after Joe’s death that he certainly would have supported.  A visionary plan is in place to restore the landscape of Cadwalader Park as designed by legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. The City of Trenton is, bit by bit, acquiring lands for a linear park the length of Assunpink Creek from the Delaware River to the city border. A design is being finalized to reshape Route 29 into a boulevard that will allow pedestrians to cross the street to restored park lands along the Delaware River. Trenton's nationally recognized SCOOP after-school program engages the energies of thousands of city children in wholesome activities. Joe would certainly have seen in all these developments new opportunities Joe Birdfor making a contribution to this community.

The purpose of the Joe Bird Memorial Wild Spaces Way Station Adventure is to honor Joe's legacy of selfless  community involvement on behalf of children and untrammeled nature.  Memories of his joyful demeanor inspire fondness for a person who quietly filled his  life with playful, creative activist adventures  and good deeds.  (Joe is pictured at right).

To honor Joe's spirit - Wild Spaces Way Station Adventure envisions creating, with the assistance of children involved in SCOOP,  at least two butterfly gardens - with particular attention to creating certified way stations to sustain Monarch butterflies on their marathon migration between Canada and  Mexico

The children will be provided the tools and supervision they need to add plants to  gardens growing in Trenton  with help from Isles.  They will use computers,  donated to SCOOP (via Weed and Seed-501C3) by Princeton University's Surplus Program, to  research and compose text and graphics that will artistically describe the varieties of plants growing in the Roberto Clemente Park Butterfly Garden.  Their creative displays of information will educate  them as well as other visitors who come to the garden.    

This project would honor Joe because it's a fun way for the the children of Trenton, a city that he loved, to learn from, connect with, and nurture the natural world around them.   It is with great hope that this experience will empower those  who participate to create and protect more wild spaces, lobby their government as informed citizens and  perform  good deeds that will make their community and world a better place.   

Richard Louv, recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal and author of the bestselling book
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, argues that kids are so plugged into television and video games that they’ve lost their connection to the natural world. This disconnect, Louv maintains, has led not only to poor physical fitness among our youth (including obesity), but also long-term mental and spiritual health problems. His work has sparked a worldwide movement to introduce more kids to the wonders of nature through various planned and spontaneous activities

In 2006,  the Children & Nature Network (C&NN) was created  to encourage and support people and organizations working to reconnect children with nature.  C&NN provides access to the latest news and research in the field and a peer-to-peer network of researchers and individuals, educators and organizations dedicated to children's health and well-being

                                                          SUE AT LEARNINGARCADE@GMAIL.COM