Review of 2016
By Jan McGruder
When looking forward to 2017, I reflect on all our chapter has done in 2016.
At our January retreat, the discussion was led by Antonio Montanaña, Membership Chair, and we focused on membership. Growing our membership is a perpetual struggle, as it is with National Audubon, and most other nonprofits. Young people want to participate, but they don’t want to join, so we’re trying different methods of engagement. We also discussed how to better serve current members, and make sure we represented your interests in our community.
Because of Andy McCormick’s hard work, our Birdathon fundraiser exceeded expectations this year. We are also in the midst of our first online auction, our fingers are crossed for similar success. Again, we received two grants from The Melody S. Robidoux Foundation Donor Advised Fund through the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona. These grants enabled us to expand our outreach on the Eastside. We were also awarded a grant for a new sign at Juanita Bay Park. Volunteer Julie Selan created the artwork, the sign can be seen at the north end of the Causeway.
Our Conservation Committee, chaired by Pete Marshall, worked on several issues this year. The committee reviewed government reports, sent letters to oppose or support actions in the community, hosted a forum on I-732, and joined with other Audubon chapters to broaden our reach. Work continues at Marymoor Park. Monthly work parties are always popular and we had 64 volunteers at the Day of Caring in September.
The Youth Education committee has done a tremendous job at various schools and venues on the Eastside. Diane Crestanello sits on the Board on their behalf. The youth educators host such events as the annual International Migratory Bird Day, and lead Family Bird Walks every month. We had the privilege of partnering with St. Thomas School. Each student chose a bird to study and created beautiful artwork, which were printed on banners for us to display. As of October this committee worked with 1,277 children and 1,180 adults. They awarded two $1,000 college scholarships to students studying conservation and the environment, and also awarded four grants to send children to summer camp.
EAS talked with 2,061 people through our adult programs and outreach events. Becky Serabrini has taken on the task of organizing adult education classes, as well as forming a Book Club that’s starting in January. We’re looking forward to more grown-up learning opportunities.
At our June retreat, the Board decided to give Mel Clark, our General Manager, the additional task of volunteer management. Margaret Lie is our Volunteer Coordinator on the Board and works closely with Mel. We’ve already seen the volunteer program take shape and become more organized. We’ve also had great gains in the number of volunteers helping at events and in the office.
Callie Hall, our Bird Friend Communities coordinator gave a talk almost every month in different locations on the Eastside, and has helped EAS form partnerships with other organizations in our area. She recruited our first UW intern, who is working with the chapter in Bird Friendly Communities as part of her school work. We hope this momentum continues in 2017.
One of our new board members, Hannah Thompson-Garner, has taken on job of Communications Chair and has been a great help in focusing our message and bringing us into the 21st century. We’re broadening our message on social media, updating brochures, and will be looking at updating the website in the coming year. Our At-Large Board Member, Marlene Meyer, has put in many hours on chapter publicity, but will be moving on to other projects now that Hannah has joined us.
So far, this year we’ve offered 43 field trips – locally and long-distance and had a successful Christmas Bird Count in December. Tricia Kishel, Birding Chair, has developed a Field Trip Leader Guide. Tricia and Antonio have also put together clipboards for leaders to take in the field.
I’m looking forward to working with the group of people who make up our Board. They all bring such commitment to everything they do for the chapter, and inspire me to strive to do more.
Photo: Dining by the Bay Sign, Juanita Bay Park, by Mick Thompson