B95 has flown to the moon and is well on his metaphorical return to Earth. At nearly 20 years old, the robin-sized red knot every year flies 20,000 miles round-trip from Tierra del Fuego to its breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic, and back. Since 1985, the year B95 was first banded, the red knot population has declined by 80 percent.
In 2008, Rare partnered with Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences and multiple local partners in Argentinian Patagonia to help protect the wintering habitat of these incredible long-distance aviators. Through Rare’s signature Pride campaign, Rare Conservation Fellow Germán Montero deployed marketing tactics, including stickers, theater productions and a red knot mascot, to give the community a positive message about the shorebirds. Montero outlined a clear plan to reduce garbage and pollution, which, unsurprisingly, threatens shorebird habitat. His plan gave residents meaningful, manageable paths of action. According to Charles Duncan, director of the shorebird recovery project at Manomet, Montero catalyzed an intellectual and emotional connection to shorebirds within the local community. “We’ve been infected by Rare’s mechanism,” says Duncan. “I would love to partner with Rare at other shorebird sites in the way Rare has profoundly focused on fisheries.”
Duncan recalls a conversation he had with Paul Butler, Rare’s senior vice president of global programs: Paul said, “Training a fellow to do just one campaign is like training a brain surgeon to do one operation.”
In August 2012, Montero — with the support of Rare, Manomet, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and local partners — visited the island of Chiloe off the Chilean coast to mentor a community organizer to run a Pride campaign. (Montero, no stranger to replication, has already run a second campaign in his home of Rio Gallegos, Argentina.) In Chiloe the objectives will be the same: reduce coastal trash to protect migrating shorebirds like the whimbrel and Hudsonian godwit. “My vision for the future is the same as when I started my work with the red knot,” says Montero. “I want to get people to recognize and appreciate the nature where they live; value it more and reach harmony between man and nature.”
Montero is not the only alumnus proliferating the Pride process. Rare Conservation Fellow Luis López completed his Pride campaign in early 2012 in Ecuador to protect critical watershed habitat and species. López now mentors municipal employees to run campaigns in three different areas, all in Ecuador: the Amazon River basin, a coastal community and a dry highland area. “We have tried to choose sites that are really diverse,” says López. “It will give us experience to replicate in even more sites. These three campaigns will be a model upon which we will learn.”
The abbreviated training will cover marketing components found in traditional Pride campaigns — such as the mascot, song, slogan, etc. — to mobilize community support. The program will also establish innovative reciprocal agreements between upstream and downstream villages to maintain water production and quality. “I have a lot of hope,” says López. “I have more confidence, since I already ran a campaign. I know the path.”