Jeffrey Hall will never toss a wrapper out the car window again. That’s because he knows that every piece of trash strewing the highway’s meridian attracts mice. And mice attract hungry hawks, who can’t always dodge oncoming trucks. Not everyone is so aware of the potential far-reaching implications of a single fast-food wrapper, but the Audubon Society director learned such lessons long ago, seeing first-hand the victims of those circumstances in injured hawks and falcons on just such a rescue.
Now, Jeffrey hopes to spark a similar awareness in his fellow Rhode Islanders. “When people learn about plants and animals, they appreciate them. And once they appreciate them, they want to save them,” says Mr. Hall. As no one in Rhode Island lives more than 20 minutes from an Audubon Society wildlife refuge, he's certain they can find ample opportunities to do so. In addition to conserving land for hikes and staring contest with owls, the Society boasts an Environmental Education Center, which hosts events, programs, and interactive exhibits year-round. For the Audubon Society to thrive, Jeffrey knows the organization's programs must inspire young stewards. “They’ll grow up to be the voters who want to protect this land,” he says. That's why, among the many programs guests can partake in, the society also offers birthday parties and kid-friendly classes.
In 2003, Wendy Taylor Humphrey’s house caught fire, killing her two dogs, six cats, and pet goat. Devastated, she searched for a way to overcome her loss by helping other animals. She trained as a wildlife rehabilitator and founded West Place Animal Sanctuary four years later to help provide shelter and recuperation for abandoned and injured farm animals and wildlife. Today, the sanctuary serves as a home for a variety of animals ranging from domestic ducklings and rabbits to wild turkeys and sheep. Sanctuary volunteers and part-time staff members receive abandoned and injured animals, nurse them back to health, feed them, and provide them with space to roam.
Drawing creative inspiration from hobbies that include crafting and cooking, photographer Jennifer Owens specializes in capturing spur-of-the-moment images of engaged couples, families, and newborns. She also shares her expertise in classes that introduce beginners to concepts such as adjusting ISO settings on a digital camera or using the right shutter speed for moving subjects. Owens is equally comfortable in outdoor settings, and can demonstrate how to take advantage of the magical "golden hour," the time around dawn or dusk when the sun adds warmth to portraits and turns photographers’ photos of raw pizza dough into fully baked pizzas.
The Aquidneck Land Trust began in 1990, when a group of local residents gathered together to dedicate itself to saving the natural character, economic value, and environmental health of Aquidneck Island. Since then, the organization has conserved more than 2,300 acres on 66 properties. Along with ongoing projects for Merritt Fund recipients, Aquidneck Land Trust’s current priorities include completion of the Sakonnet Greenway Trail and conservation of 70-plus acres on Saint Mary’s Church land. By working with landowners, foundations, government agencies, and communities, the organization aims to protect and conserve roughly 4,000 acres of open spaces.
Books Through Bars, Inc. provides free reading materials for prisoners across the country. Every month, it receives more than 120 letters from prisoners requesting books. The organization responds by sending donated volumes from individuals, libraries, and community organizations, making selections based on the stated preferences of the inmate. Reading the books provides a productive activity for the inmates and can help them develop politically, spiritually, and academically during their time in prison.
When the Newport Historical Society and the Newport Restoration Foundation joined forces, the result was Newport History Tours. Founded to celebrate the region’s rich and vibrant history, Newport History Tours designed more than a dozen tours that explore the city’s landmarks, historic sites, and more than 300 pre-Revolutionary War–era buildings. The tours touch on just about every aspect of the city’s past, with themes that range from the colonial era and Golden Age to prohibition smuggling, historical criminals, and lantern-lit holiday strolls.