Chapter of the Month

Chapter of the Month: Highlands Plateau Audubon Society

Outstanding volunteers work to protect birds. Meet Edwin and Kay Poole.

Audubon North Carolina has 10 amazing chapters across the state that help put a local focus on bird preservation and conservation issues. In this special blog series, we’ll focus on a chapter each month to learn more about their history, what they are working on, and to increase the statewide understanding of special ecosystems and habitats. Each month will include a series of posts about each chapter including a post from our biologists that will share a unique research project that is happening in the chapter’s geographic footprint.

This month, we get to know the Highlands Plateau Audubon Society (HPAS)

Where would we be without our standout volunteers donating their time and energy to bird conservation through their local chapters?

When Kay and Edwin Poole came to Highlands in 1998, they left active membership in the Audubon Society of Forsyth County in Winston-Salem. Having been a founding member of the Walter Hastings Audubon Society in Traverse City, Michigan, Edwin is also a life member of Michigan Audubon. In Highlands, the pair immediately sought out their local fledgling chapter and has been mainstays since.

Both Kay and Edwin served on the Highlands Plateau Audubon board of directors until just a few years ago. Edwin has served as Program and Field Trip Chair, Vice President, and Newsletter Editor. Kay served ably as Secretary for many years and has provided refreshments and Chili lunches for most Christmas Bird Counts. Edwin participates on the Education and Communications Committees and mails out our bimonthly newsletter--with Kay's help.

Romney Bathurst, current Field Trip Chair, recalls, "Our first ever outing with HPAS was for birding around Highlands, and we ended up in Horse Cove around lunch time. Bill and I had not been aware that we should have brought a packed lunch, and as Bill is diabetic, it was important that he eat at least something. It was Edwin who kindly shared his sandwich with him and, as I recall, even some of Kay's homemade cookies too! That was the beginning of our participation, along with both Edwin and Kay, in many years of fun HPAS outings. A few years later, as I began to keep track of my life birds, it was Edwin who steered me to AviSys for my software. He demonstrated how easy it is to use and what great information could be generated as a result. I was hooked!"

Photo: William McReynolds

For over fifteen years the Pooles have been invaluable volunteers for our Chapter. Recently, William McReynolds sat down with them to plumb their Audubon memories.

How long have you been a birder, Edwin?

EP: Since I was a boy scout. I earned a bird study merit badge when I was a boy.

What has inspired you to be a volunteer?

EP: I just enjoy the birds and teaching others about birds.

How has HPAS done, in your opinions, in engaging more people in local birding activities?

EP & KP: Just look at how HPAS has grown over the years. In 1999 we had few active members. Now, we have are many more! Our membership has grown, our programs are well attended and our leadership is outstanding.

Can the two of you remember any critical turning points in your decision to become involved locally as Audubon volunteers?

EP: Early on in 1999, at a Board meeting, the new president, who had been doing a great deal to keep the chapter going, resigned and the new secretary quit. We had to act fast to keep the organization together. We convinced Brock Hutchins to be president; I became the vice president and Kay the secretary.

Kay, what would you say to encourage others to be volunteers?

KP: If you care about birds, it is one of the most rewarding things you can do.

High praise for Edwin and Kay Poole as volunteers in HPAS comes from everyone who has worked with them over the years. According to Brock Hutchens, former President and current Treasurer of HPAS, “Kay and Edwin were key participants in the survival of this Chapter during lean times, and Edwin has been our most faithful field trip participant and leader; he never failed to be there, rain or shine.”

We salute Edwin and Kay Poole!

To learn more about the Highlands Plateau Audubon Society, including our activities for 2015 and how to join, visit the chapter website at

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