by Bill Mees, Nature Areas Committee

The following is Bill Mees’ address at the dedication of the Council House at the Boone Count Nature School. The creation of the Council House was made possible by a generous donation from CAS. Several CAS members attended the dedication: Dave and Nancy Bedan, Lisa schenker, Lottie Bushmann and her husband, Jean Leonatti, June and Cleo Kottwitz.

Dr. Brian Yearwood
Sara Parker Pauly
Vicky Russell and the Hank Waters Family, Distinguished guests, and Columbia’s School Board members

You’re probably asking yourself, why are the bird watchers here today? Our presence is proof Columbia Audubon Society is more than birds. This is why we made a donation to help fund the construction of this Council House.

Columbia Audubon has been a Partner in Education with Columbia Public Schools (CPS) since 2012 as a partner with the CPS Science Department. This partnership enabled Columbia Audubon to offer assistance on nature-oriented projects across the district. Columbia Audubon helps organize a field trip for about 1300 2nd graders at Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary, provides need-based assistance for students who want to attend the Tetons / Yellowstone summer event, the Smoky Mountains trip and we sponsor teachers to attend a National Audubon program for classroom teachers.

This Nature School idea has been moving in starts and stops since 2014. That’s nearly 10 years. There are people here today who have changed jobs since then, others have changed jobs and then as more time passed, they retired.
It’s thanks to the tenacity and relentless focus of Columbia Public Schools, Sara Parker Pauly, and the Waters family that we are here today.

Members of Columbia Audubon have been interested in this Nature School concept from its earliest incarnation in 2014. When the project was finally really going to happen, the next step was funding. Columbia Audubon didn’t wait to be asked. We sought out Mike Szydlowski our partner in the CPS Science Department. We asked what can we do to help. Just ask us. What do you want/need. That’s when the idea of a Council House was presented.
This Council House in conjunction with the Boone County Nature School checks every one of the boxes in the Columbia Audubon mission statement: to preserve the natural world and its ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife, and the earth’s biological diversity through education, environmental study and habitat restoration and protection.

We look forward to seeing, dirty, sweaty, excited, breathless, learners occupying these seats recounting Nature’s wonders.

The infrastructure is here but that’s just the start. Now it’s the educator’s job to implement the curriculum. There will be thousands of scholars and teachers experiencing the programs and projects here on the property. These scholars will provide the recruits who love nature as much as we do and will eventually replace us in the years ahead. At least that’s the hope of Columbia Audubon Society.