Michelle Frankel is one of 40 individuals nationwide selected as a 2009 TogetherGreen Fellow. This fellowship is designed to advance the work of individuals with outstanding leadership potential to help shape a brighter environmental future. The TogetherGreen Fellowship offers specialized training in conservation planning and execution, the chance to work and share best practices with gifted conservation professionals, and assistance with project outreach and evaluation. Each Fellow receives $10,000 towards a community-focused project to engage local residents in conserving land, water and energy, and contributing to greater environmental health.
For her fellowship, Frankel will launch “Urban Oases,” a citizen science program focused on improving the quality of stopover habitats for birds along major migration pathways, initially in Florida and the Bahamas. If successful, this program will achieve greater community involvement through the volunteering of citizen-scientists, provide insights into which species of plants are most beneficial as food sources for migrating birds, and promote native plant restoration and landscaping that improves habitat quality for migrating birds in urban regions all along migratory flyways.
Frankel is the Director of Foundation Relations and Government Grants as well as a biologist for Audubon of Florida. In that capacity, she works to integrate diverse perspectives and help guide the direction of Audubon of Florida’s Bird Conservation Program. “Michelle is the kind of person who can make a real difference in the health of our environment and the quality of our future,” said Audubon President John Flicker. “Each of our TogetherGreen Fellows demonstrates exceptional environmental understanding and commitment, combined with tremendous potential to inspire and lead others. Together, they represent the talented and diverse leadership the environmental community will need to tackle the huge challenges and opportunities confronting us now and in the years to come.”
“Many species of migrating songbirds are declining at an alarming rate, and the reductions in quality and quantity of stop-over habitat during migration, particularly in highly urbanized regions, are contributing to their declines, Frankel said. “Since the protection and enhancement of urban green spaces occurs primarily at local levels, engaging local people in surveying, enhancing and protecting their public green spaces and raising awareness in their own communities is a vital component of the Urban Oases project. The TogetherGreen fellowship will help me enhance my skills in conservation planning, engaging diverse audiences, and building effective partnerships, which will all be critical to the success of this project.”
A distinguished advisory committee—composed of conservation professionals and experts in environmental education, communications, outreach, and conservation planning—s elected the fellowship beneficiaries from a competitive pool of scores of highly qualified individuals. Qualified applicants must have at least six years of experience in conservation, environmental education, policy, or environmental issues, as demonstrated through current and past work experience, academic studies related to conservation, and/or volunteer work. Candidates must have a passion for conservation, the desire to learn and grow, and demonstrate a proven ability in reaching previously unengaged audiences.
"We must engage the best and brightest leaders representing the broadest and most diverse communities in this country to solve our ever more complex conservation challenges,” said Diane Wood, President, National Environmental Education Foundation. “TogetherGreen is a creative program that uncovers such leaders, nurtures their talents, supports their dedication to conservation and holds them up to inspire others to follow."