Welcome Silent Generation, Baby Boomer, Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z readers,
The subtle shifts in attitudes and behaviors that happens over time and shapes the narrative of each generation are fascinating. While each of us likely has memories of formative experiences that propelled us toward certain hobbies, friends, and careers, Gen Z (those born in the mid-1990’s through early 2010’s) is the only generation whose lives have been intertwined with technology from the start. Has a lifetime of screen time turned Gen Z away from green careers, care for and connection with nature, and environmental advocacy? Evidence (and evidence, evidence, and more evidence) indicates absolutely not.
These “digital natives” are using technology, and social media and storytelling platforms in particular, to organize themselves as advocates and activists around issues of environmental justice and environmental protection. Technology has enabled teens who participate in Seattle Audubon’s Young Birders program to remain active during the pandemic, and significantly broadened the geographic scope of the group. Similarly, the NextGen Advisory Council continues its work to increase the reach of Seattle Audubon’s programming to younger and more diverse audiences by examining barriers to entry, as well as probing the lack of diverse representation at all levels of the organization. Individuals in both of the above groups share a genuine love for birds and nature, and technology has certainly not dimmed this shared passion for the natural world.
The ways that Gen Z define their connections with nature and the way that individuals and groups are redefining “outdoorsy” may look different than those of other generations, and that is a glorious piece of societal evolution worthy of celebration. We know that birds face significant environmental threats, from climate change to common urban hazards such as window collisions and outdoor cats. Making headway on these issues requires intersectional collaboration, inclusive leadership, and a tenacious dedication to make the changes needed to achieve environmental justice and protection for all. I am committed to listen to, support, uplift, and learn from the diverse voices of Gen Z, as well as marvel at their ability to organize for joyful and profound changes that will benefit people and birds. I hope you will join me in this commitment.
Explore individual articles from this edition:
NextGen Council: Fostering tomorrow’s bird advocates and diversity champions
by Suzannah Yu, NextGen Advisory Council Member
Storytelling: A powerful tool for building community and generating action
by Rebekah Graham, a former Seattle Audubon Young Birder