Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
gravel trail through a forest
North River Wildlife Sanctuary, Marshfield

Gateway to Nature Program Arrives in South East

November 01, 2023

Through collaboration with partner organizations, Mass Audubon has brought one of our signature programs, Gateway to Nature, to the New Bedford and Fall River communities. This place-based program focuses on positive youth development by incorporating outdoor exploration and joyful, nature-based learning. 

Camper inspecting seaweed and algae samples

Connecting Campers to their Surroundings

This summer, Mass Audubon educators teamed up with camps from the New Bedford YMCA and New Bedford Parks, Beaches & Recreation to try something new. With a commitment to deep engagement, we spent full days with these camps, facilitating the connection between campers, staff, and the surrounding natural world. From catching various fish using a seine net at East Beach to exploring outdoor spaces near their camps, spending full days together allowed us to ask more questions and spend more time on whatever we happened upon each day.  

One day, while exploring the shoreline at East Beach, a barge carrying pieces for the Vineyard Wind offshore wind project went by. Vineyard Wind is currently building the nation's first utility-scale offshore wind energy project over 15 miles off the coast of Massachusetts with staging taking place right in New Bedford harbor. They were HUGE, and the kids had so many questions that led to conversations about wind energy, new engineering jobs based out of New Bedford, potential careers in the green industry, and the future of New Bedford versus the past!

Campers looking at shells in buckets

Working Together to Make Lasting Memories

In addition, staff members from the camps and Mass Audubon were able to get to know each other and work together to bring more enriching experiences to the campers.  

TJ Thomas, Out of School Time and Event Coordinator for the City of New Bedford, said, “This summer was incredible, and the response from the kids and staff was tremendous. The kids all respected Mass Audubon’s Lead Education Coordinator, Chris Hitchener’s, knowledge and lessons, but our staff thoroughly enjoyed having him there as well! His energy encouraged participation, and the lessons and activities created a sense of wonder and awe.”

Kristin at the New Bedford YMCA wrote, “This collaboration with Mass Audubon added a nice touch and quality to our camp program. It was great to see the children get SO excited to participate week after week and even explore some beach critters! We hope to continue this collaboration for years to come.” 

Expanding Gateway to Nature

We are excited to continue these partnerships and are looking for more partners in Fall River and New Bedford!  

If you are interested in connecting your group to nature, please reach out to learn more: [email protected] or ⁠781-754-4221.