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Suits Meet Grass Roots at National Audubon Convention

The National Audubon Society (NAS) held its first national convention in 13 years right here in Washington in July.

By Dora Rajkhowa

Western Scrub-Jay by Larry EnglesThe convention for Audubon chapter leaders was held July 12 to July 15 at the Skamania Lodge in Stevenson. Two Eastside Audubon board members attended: chapter Secretary Linda Gresky and myself. It was a jam-packed weekend full of information and energy.

The theme of the convention was “Taking Flight Together.” As Audubon CEO David Yarnold expressed in his keynote speech, Audubon as an organization is stronger when we work together. By collaborating, we can effect change on a much larger scale. His view of Audubon is that we are a “hemispheric non-governmental organization (NGO) with a distinct network of chapters.”

Mr. Yarnold gave a keynote speech outlining Audubon’s vision and plans for the future. He explained Audubon’s approach to working in four distinct flyways within the United States that generally reflect the migration paths of the birds of North America. Every attendee’s convention badge reflected the wearer’s flyway.

Mr. Yarnold also outlined the five pillars that Audubon is using to support the flyways. These are:

    • Putting working lands to work for birds and people
    • Sharing our seas and shores
    • Saving Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
    • Shaping a healthy climate and clean energy future
    • Creating bird-friendly communities

The convention boasted a stunning number of workshops to choose from based on these pillars. These workshops covered various topics including fundraising, advocacy, diversity, and environmental issues.

In addition, each flyway met for a breakout session. In the Pacific Flyway session, Mike Sutton, NAS vice president for the Pacific flyway, discussed some projects that are currently underway within the flyway.

In another nod to Washington state, long time Tahoma Audubon Society member Helen Engle was awarded this year’s Audubon lifetime achievement award for her decades-long commitment to the environment.

It was wonderful to meet so many members of the Audubon family, not only at the convention but at the pre-convention field trips. I attended the trip called “The Birding the Refuges,” which went to Steigerwald Lake, Franz Lake, and Pierce national wildlife refuges.

Our trip leader, Wilson Cady, was a walking encyclopedia. Not only was he a bird expert, he was a plant expert and an expert on the history of Skamania County and the national wildlife refuges.

It is my sincere hope that the connections made and knowledge gained at this year’s convention will contribute to continuing Eastside Audubon’s vision of enjoying nature, protecting our environment, and keeping the birds singing.

Editor’s note: For more insight into the Pacific Flyway strategy, read Mike Sutton’s report on the NAS conference.


Photo: EAS Treasurer Dora Rajkhowa saw her first Western Scrub-Jay on a pre-convention field trip. Photo by Larry Engles.

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The mission of Eastside Audubon is to protect, preserve and enhance natural ecosystems and our communities for the benefit of birds, other wildlife and people.