Globally, there have been calls to increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts in ecology, conservation, and outdoor recreation. These calls are in part due to the changing demographics of the birding community, as people who identify as queer and people of color increasingly participate in birding. However, little research has documented what DEI efforts look like on paper or in practice, or how they impact minority communities, with insufficient research on queer communities. Without data on how DEI efforts are being implemented and received, organizations cannot be held accountable to the goal of increasing DEI, which could result in diversity washing. This poster is part of an ongoing study of DEI efforts and the experience of queer birders in the Great Salt Lake watershed. It presents a qualitative analysis of six DEI documents published by birding and bird conservation organizations, of which five are from prominent national organizations (e.g., the National Audubon Society) and one is local to Utah, the Tracy Aviary. These documents range from short statements on organizational websites to 45-page how-to guides for staff and volunteers.
Documents were coded for themes to understand DEI best practices. Overall themes highlighted the benefits of DEI, methods to improve DEI, and comparisons of diversity to biodiversity. The positive links highlighted between DEI, recreation, and conservation indicate that formal birding organizations are attempting to evolve their messaging to recognize the valorization of DEI efforts. However, questions remain about the feasibility of implementing formalized DEI guidelines and how best practices proposed by organizations match the on-the-ground needs and experiences of marginalized birders. This research explores the strengths and weaknesses of existing DEI guidelines and how these guidelines may promote mutual growth and visibility of the birding and queer communities.