Screen capture from Connectivity Challenge pitch

In 2020, the Midwest Migration Network was part of a collaborative grant proposal for the Connectivity Challenge, created to fund meaningful change in the field of conservation by the Salazar Center for North American Conservation in partnership with Colorado State University’s  inaugural Conservation Impact Prize.

The Audubon Great Lakes engagement team, with support from several MMN Steering Committee members, led the proposal titled “Birds Connect Us: Empowering Communities through Migratory Bird Technology.” Our team was one of five finalists in the running for the Connectivity Challenge. We are honored to have been selected to participate in a live virtual pitch event hosted by the Salazar Center on September 16. You can view a recording of that pitch, delivered by Audubon Great Lakes’ Jeremiah Steen, in the embedded video below or by clicking here.

Our vision for this project is to bring together community members in Detroit and Milwaukee, two major urban centers and migratory bird hotspots along the Great Lakes, and connect them to exciting migratory science research happening where they live. Audubon Great Lakes’ Wild Indigo Nature Explorations Program already works extensively with communities of color in these two cities, with emphases on program co-development and meeting communities where they are. Our goal was to enhance Wild Indigo’s work by incorporating Motus wildlife tracking technology into curricula and providing STEM education, career-building activities, and mentorship opportunities for community members. This important work aims to connect community members to research and researchers. By engaging community members more deeply in the process of understanding how migratory birds use the landscapes in their neighborhoods, we seek to foster the importance of preserving local green spaces for migratory birds and people. Our hope is for this project to serve as a model for future projects connecting communities to Motus technology across the continent and beyond.

Although we were not selected as the winner, we will continue to seek funding opportunities to support program development and Motus tower installation in communities where the Wild Indigo team is working. We will also continue taking steps toward some of the initiatives set forth in our proposal, such as further integrating community engagement with MMN initiatives.


If you would like to learn how you can help in making Motus come to life through community engagement programs in the Great Lakes region or beyond, please contact Stephanie Beilke, Audubon Great Lakes Conservation Science Manager: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To learn more about MMN’s Telemetry initiative, which focuses on Motus Wildlife Tracking, click here.