by John Besser

-by John Besser

Well, it’s time for me to take on the slightly prestigious but mostly thankless job of chapter president. Past President Laura Hillman was able to convince Bill Mees to take over as Vice President and program chair (a job I didn’t want), while I take over as president (a job Bill didn’t want).  Thanks to Laura for finding this solution, just as she has found solutions for many other problems during her two terms as CAS President. Other changes in the board of directors this year include the invaluable Nancy Bedan taking on the role of secretary and Greg Leonard starting a three year term as board member with valuable fresh blood and new ideas.

My first message to the membership of Columbia Audubon Society is this: CAS is an awesome organization that does great work on behalf of birds and bird lovers! Our value to the community was recognized last spring when we received the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement Award in the area of Environmental Stewardship. This prize was a particular recognition of the success of the prairie restoration project at the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary and Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary, but I think this is just one of many areas where CAS continues to outdo itself.

As we look forward to the coming year, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the many ways CAS meets the needs of our membership and our community:

  1. Birds and birding. This is always a core activity for Audubon members, and we continue to reach out to bird lovers of differing ages and expertise.  CAS supports a busy schedule of field trips to bird habitats near and far, and we reach out to support additional groups involved in birding including other Audubon chapters, the Audubon Society of Missouri, the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative, and the Missouri River Birding Observatory. A lot of credit is due to our field trip chair, Eric Wood.
  2. Environmental education. Education is always been part of the Audubon mission, and we are proud of our slate of activities. Our premier education activity is the annual Band With Nature field trip for second-grade students in Columbia public schools, which is held each fall at CANS. This field trip is popular with teachers, students, and parents alike, and features up-close and hands-on interaction with wild birds netted and banded on-site as well as awesome hawks and owls supervised by MU’s Raptor Rehabilitation Project. Our education program also includes indoor and outdoor programs for grade-school kids along with scholarships to support older students and teachers taking educational trips to the Tetons in Wyoming, the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, and Hog Island Audubon camp on the coast of Maine. Special thanks for these efforts go to Lottie Bushman and Bill Mees.
  3. CAS programs. CAS produces entertaining and educational programs at our monthly general membership meetings, which are usually held on the third Wednesday of each month at the Unitarian-Universalist Church on Shepard Boulevard at 7:00 p.m. Already on the calendar for this year are programs on birding at state parks, hawk identification, urban wildlife, and Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. A new and so-far popular addition to our programming has been a book discussion presented at the Daniel Boone Regional Library by Eric and Joanna Reuter. This series will continue in January with a discussion of “Welcome to Subirdia” by John Marzluff, which discusses the value of landscaping in human neighborhoods to benefit birds.
  4. Special events. In addition to our regular meetings, CAS organizes or participates in a variety of special events throughout the year. Some notable offerings for this year include:
    1. Fall picnic. We will hold our first monthly meeting as a potluck gathering at the Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary Shelter, on Sunday, September 16, starting at 4:00 p.m. We plan to socialize for a while before eating an early picnic dinner at 5:00 p.m., leaving time for a 6:00 p.m. bird walk through Bonnie View and CANS.
    2. ASM meeting. The fall meeting of our statewide birding/ornithological society will be hosted by CAS in Columbia on September 28-30 at the Stoney Creek Inn; we will also be leading many field trips around the area throughout the weekend. This will be a great opportunity to meet birders from around the state, attend presentations in a casual setting, eat great food, and of course see lots of good birds.
    3. CAS 60th anniversary celebration. CAS has been part of Columbia’s environmental community for six decades, and we think this legacy is worthy of a special celebration. Keep your eye on future issues of The Chat for information on this special event, which will be held next spring.

Happy birding!

John Besser, CAS President