Audubon members from across the state gathered at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro in August to celebrate past wins and plan for the coming year.
The annual meeting, called Chapter Day, provides time and space for bird-lovers and chapter leaders to share ideas about how to better organize and advocate for birds. The group included representatives from eight chapters spanning the state, including our new college chapter at Lees-McRae College.
Audubon North Carolina Executive Director Andrew Hutson spoke to the group about the importance of our network, calling chapters the “backbone of the organization.”
Hutson also spoke about Audubon's efforts to build a big-tent, bipartisan conservation movement to protect birds and the places they need. “Everyone cares about the environment, we just talk about it in different ways,” he said.
Chapter leaders show us what that looks like on the ground every day. At Chapter Day, they took the opportunity to share some of their victories from the past year. Here are just a few:
- Mecklenburg Audubon Society partnered with Pastor Darryl Gaston to organize the Bird, Nature, and Community Festival in a historically black neighborhood in Charlotte. “It was proof to us how positive relationships could take us to places we’ve never been,” said Board President Malia Kline.
- Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society hosted a record-breaking bird-a-thon, raising $1,000 for a UNC Asheville student scholarship and $11,000 for the American Bird Conservancy to do conservation work on the Colombian wintering grounds of North Carolina birds. The chapter also upped their advocacy game by fostering successful relationships with local lawmakers, culminating in a bird walk in Asheville with Rep. Susan Fisher.
- After successfully reorganizing the board and transitioning leadership, Cape Fear Audubon Society was also able its signature educational series called “Discovering the Wonder of Birds” at ten schools in the Wilmington area.
- Pioneering students at Lees-McRae College Audubon established a new college chapter at their school—way to go team!—and gathered contact information from 20 freshmen interested in the new group.
- The good folks at Wake Audubon Society have been ramping up their outreach game and reaching a younger audience through social media, an effort that includes launching the first North Carolina chapter Instagram account! The chapter also is organizing an award ceremony and Chimney Swift watch event at Transfer Co. Food Hall in downtown Raleigh, to be attended by First Lady Kristin Cooper.
- T. Gilbert Pearson Audubon Society oversaw a native plants program at a local library that included the successful planting of 100 native species. “It was such a great opportunity for a large number of people to identify the plants and see the activity of the birds, bees, and butterflies,” Board Chairwoman Marie Poteat said.
- New Hope Audubon Society has been out and about hosting educational events in all three counties—Orange, Durham, and Chatham—including family bird walks. The chapter has also upped its number of bird walk leaders and facilitated well-attended walks throughout the summer.
- Forsyth Audubon has launched a new website and revamped newsletter to broaden membership outreach, and the early results are promising. Chapter meeting attendance has already been increasing. The chapter also ran a successful migration education program for 4th graders.