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Monday, November 01, 2010

Why I Love Audubon

As hopefully a final post in this recent series on birds and Audubon, I'd just like to highlight some of what I really love about Audubon. Mostly people who are doing great work, some of which you may not have heard of. There are thousands of them across the country, passionate and effective Auduboners at the National, State and local chapter level. Here are just a few:

1) Stephen Kress. For decades, against all odds, Dr. Kress has put together one of the most effective bird conservation programs in Audubon. He has brought puffins and nesting terns back to the coast of Maine, and has solid data to show the effectiveness of his work. He has trained hundreds of young interns over the years, and his work is an inspiration for similar projects around the world.

2) Paul Green. After serving as the president of the American Birding Association, and then as the Director of Citizen Science for Audubon, Dr. Green moved to Tucson where he heads up the Tucson Audubon Society and its groundbreaking efforts to protect the birds of Southeastern Arizona, including a landscape design course for homeowners and landscape professionals.

3) Stephen Saffier. I worked with Steve in Audubon's Science Office, and now he heads up efforts to create communities and neighborhoods that are good for birds and people at Audubon Pennsylvania. Instead of getting mired in the politics of Audubon, he has been able to implement some of the best ideas we ever had, including a backyard bird conservation program and a database linking birds to the native plants that they use and that people can plant to support them.

4) Jane Tillman. When I was at Travis Audubon Jane took on leading an Urban Habitat Committee that works tirelessly to make Austin better for birds and people. Jane and her committee have undertaken many local projects over the years, including creating backyard habitats and installing Chimney Swift towers in local parks.

5) Brian Rutledge. I love Sage Grouse, and Audubon is definitely stronger for having Brian Rutledge (Audubon VP of the Rocky Mountain Region) and his crew working tirelessly to protect them from environmental threats including damage done by extensive energy development in Wyoming.

6) Stella Miller. When Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon president Stella Miller heard that hundreds of hawks and other birds of prey were being seriously injured by methane burners at landfills and other industrial facilities, she didn't just wring her hands in despair. She took on the challenge and is working with industry groups to bring this issue to their attention and put in measures to protect the birds.

There are thousands of people in Audubon that are just as effective and passionate as these examples. I will be highlighting each of these, and many more, here and on my Urban Birdscapes blog. Audubon is well served by these people, and will be well served by supporting them and giving them the resources they need to be effective in protecting the birds and habitats we share with them.


Nate said...

I think this is sort of indicative of the issues surrounding so many environmental NGOs with national aspirations. Audubon, at its grass roots, still does amazing work, but even for the chapter for which I serve on the board, dealing with National and even State is like pulling teeth. It's as if they are completely separate organizations with scarcely any interaction between them. And we're the largest chapter in the state!

The same can be said for The Nature Conservancy and Sierra Club too, who have individuals working on the local level doing amazing things while a national organization spins round and round.

I absolutely think a distinction can be made between those individuals and the national office and that its important to do so. Personally, I thought your criticisms (completely valid ones) were always directed at New York and not at the people doing the work on the ground.

Birding is Fun! said...

May I add that whoever at Audubon works with or helps finance the eBird team deserves some kudos!

John B. said...

My experience in a local Audubon chapter was similar to Nate's. Granted, we were a tiny chapter rather than a large one, but there wasn't a whole lot of coordination with the national or regional offices. That's not entirely a bad thing, since it left the chapter free to run its own programs without interference, but it makes it more difficult to bring some of the national or regional organizational muscle to bear on local conservation issues.

Anonymous said...

My turn. Susan Elbin. New York City Audubon. Seamless mix of science and conservation, local, low-key, small-scale, brilliant. Is there some way to scale this up to national? I don't know. Maybe this federation model is the way to go but then maybe there is too much focus on/money for the national office at the expense of the local chapters and even (dare I say it) the state offices?

birdchaser said...

Thanks for the thoughts everyone. And yes, please add your own local, state, or national Audubon heroes here as well :-)

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