President’s Corner

By John Besser

CAS cancellations and “social distancing”. It sure seems like more than a month since the last Chat. Our world is changing rapidly in response to the spread of the pandemic coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. Changes in our little organization seem pretty trivial compared to the upheaval around the world, but efforts to reduce the spread of the disease depend heavily on changes in behavior by each of us.  So it was a pretty easy decision to cancel the CAS monthly meetings planned for March and April. The risks of exposure to the virus in large groups gathered indoors is simply too great. Fortunately, we will have other opportunities to hear from the canceled speakers.

The decision to pause our spring field trip schedule was more difficult. For me, like many other CAS members, getting outdoors to look for birds has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dreary season. But the logistics of travel and the heavy burden on the shoulder of field trip leaders tipped the scale towards caution, so we will have to settle for birding in small groups or running into our birder friends at our shared hotspots.

One exception to this trend for cancellations is the self-guided wildflower walk at the CAS Wild Haven Nature Area that is being organized by Roxie Campbell. Originally planned as a combined field trip and workshop on control of invasive plants, this event has morphed into a self-guided tour, with Roxie marking different wildflowers as they come into bloom over the coming weeks. I walked the route on a recent afternoon to replace trail markers and Wild Haven was looking spectacular! Spring Beauties and Harbinger of Spring were already blooming.

Another event that hasn’t been canceled (yet) is our spring picnic.  Normally held in mid-May, it may be delayed this year, but hopefully it will be held at Wild Haven!

Board Business. As the CAS program calendar came to an early end, the annual cycle of business for the CAS board of directors moved on with some big jobs still incomplete.  Last month we started work on the fiscal year 2020 budget and we heard a report and proposal about upgrading our chapter’s insurance coverage.

But the biggest remaining job for the board this year will be to nominate a slate of candidates for the spring election. Of the chapter’s four elected officers, we will need new candidates for the positions of President and Vice President, both of which serve two-year terms. Unfortunately, we do not have a Vice President ready to move to the top job, because Bill Mees already served a two-year term before generously offering to serve again as VP. I will beg and plead to keep our current Secretary, Nancy Bedan, and Treasurer, Eric Seaman. Nancy has led our highly successful CoMoGives campaigns for the last couple years, and Eric has been our financial foundation for as long as I can remember. We will also need a candidate to serve as an elected at-large board member for a three-year term. This candidate will replace Eric Wood, who served ably as both a board member and Field Trip Chair in recent years. There will also be openings for some board-appointed positions, including the News Editor and the Field Trip Chair, positions currently held by Joanna and Eric Reuter.

The departing officers and board members have distinguished themselves in their roles and their contributions have made our organization better. I would ask that you look at your CAS colleagues (and that face in the mirror) and consider whether they could contribute some of their time and talents to our organization. New board members with energy and fresh ideas are always needed, even if they are new to CAS.  And if you have been a member for a while and know the ropes, you sound like executive material!

A nominating committee will be formed soon. Members interested in serving on this committee or filling one of the open officer/board/committee positions should contact any board member.

March board meeting unofficial summary

Official meeting minutes are posted to the website after approval (typically at each subsequent board meeting). No board meeting was held in February, but the minutes from the special membership meeting have been posted. Below are brief notes about some topics discussed on March 18, 2019. Please contact a board member with any questions.

  • The board decided to cancel the April meeting due to coronavirus pandemic; alternative options for the board meeting are being considered, including Zoom. No decision has been made regarding the May meeting.
  • Field trips are being canceled due to the coronavirus.
  • A new insurance policy is being considered that would provide coverage for field trips plus enhance other forms of coverage for the organization. Some questions remain and more research is required. The policy under consideration would be quite a bit more expensive but would be better suited to CAS’s needs than the present policy.
  • The budget was discussed.
  • Openings for elected and unelected positions that will need to be filled for 2020-21 were discussed. Normally elections are in April, but the cancellation of the April meeting will affect this.
  • Plans for the CANS prairie expansion were discussed. More seed will be purchased, and less collected by volunteers, than in the previous effort.
  • The exact name for the CAS-funded Council House at the Nature School was discussed.

Supporting CAS

Carrying out our mission through education, conservation, and outreach takes a wide variety of resources, from the valued time of dedicated volunteers to the financial support of members and donors. We welcome and appreciate all participants and supporters of our work through their generous donations of time, money, or other resources.

Submitting material to The Chat

The Chat is published online on the first of every month from September through May. Submissions are welcome, including photographs, stories, and brief notes about bird or nature observations. Please contact News Editor Joanna Reuter with submissions, feedback, or suggestions for content. The submission deadline is the 25th of each month.