FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Audubon Nature Institute
Office 504-378-2693 | Cell 504-278-0542
Bivian "Sonny" Lee III
Son of a Saint
(New Orleans, La.) - Two New Orleans non-profits are joining together to create a unique mentorship program for New Orleans area boys who have lost their fathers. Son of a Saint and Audubon Nature Institute have organized monthly "keeper for a day" trips to Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium led by a Son of a Saint mentor and a male Audubon animal care staff member.
Once a month, the boys are invited behind-the-scenes at the attractions for informal lessons on subjects like how the Aquarium salts the water in the 400,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico exhibit and why insects are the building blocks of all life at Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, along with activities like feeding the tallest mammal in the world at the Zoo.
"Our young men grow by being exposed to new experiences and Audubon Nature Institute is providing the environment for us to do that," said Bivian "Sonny" Lee III, Founder and Chairman of Son of a Saint. "These young boys and men are being exposed to animals, insects, and aquatic life from around the world and locally in Louisiana. This teaches them that the world is greater than their neighborhood."
Son of a Saint exists to enhance the lives of fatherless boys through mentorship, emotional support, development of life skills, exposure to constructive experiences and formation of positive, lasting peer-to-peer relationships.
Each year, Son of a Saint selects a group of boys ages 10-13 to join children already enlisted in the program. Program participants are fatherless due to incarceration, death or abandonment. Each boy remains a Son of a Saint member until he is 18 and receives his college acceptance letter.
Son of a Saint members are exposed to various weekly activities such as horseback riding, fishing, and yoga, with every boy participating in at least one of these activities weekly.
"They get to see the tremendous teamwork, care, and passion the staff have for their work," said Lee. "It's inspiring and teaches them how important every person's role is in making sure that every animal, insect, fish or sea animal is cared for and thrives. This is a huge example of how they too can care for living things and our environment, show teamwork, responsibility and no matter what your circumstances, you can make a difference in the world."
In 2005, Audubon Nature Institute launched a special community relations program designed specifically to engage residents in the New Orleans metropolitan area. Audubon Nature Institute's commitment to the community has included complimentary admission days, a health information booth at Soul Fest, a business expo for local minority owned businesses, after-hours meet and greets with the penguins for children with physical and intellectual disabilities, and a citywide Easter Egg hunt.
"Audubon is always looking for ways to increase access and inclusiveness through community partnerships and education programs," said Audubon CEO and President Ron Forman. "Exposure to positive role models working in the animal care field can spark curiosity, hands-on engagement with science, and a lifelong appreciation of nature which is at the core of what we do."
Son of a Saint helped nearly 50 boys since its launch in 2011. The public can help/donate/volunteer by visiting www.sonofasaint.org
Audubon Nature Institute
Audubon Nature Institute operates a family of museums, parks and research facilities dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Through innovative live animal exhibits, education programs, and scientific discovery, Audubon makes a meaningful contribution to preserving wildlife for the future. Audubon Nature Institute flagships include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy Giant Screen Theater, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Special Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute.