June 17, 2020

NOTE: Meeting conducted online via Zoom.

Present: Nancy Bedan, John Besser, Lottie Bushmann, Jim Gast, Laura Hillman, Greg Leonard, Bill Mees, Doug Miller, Jean Neely, Lisa Schenker, Eric Seaman, Eric Wood

Let it be recorded that the membership approved the proposed slate of CAS officers by a vote of 47-0.

President Jim Gast called the meeting to order at 6:08 p.m.


John Besser moved (Eric W seconded) approval of minutes from the May 13, 2020, board meeting. Motion approved without dissent.

Financial Issues

CAS had provided the Columbia Public School District with student scholarships for summer programs that have since been canceled due to COVID-19. Lisa Shenker has been in touch with CPS Science Coordinator Mike Szydlowski regarding the disposition of these funds.

Lottie Bushmann, Lisa Shenker, Jan Mees and Allison Vaughn have met to review and update the Hog Island Teacher Scholarship application. The revised application will be ready for the fall.

Hog Island is holding onto the CAS scholarship funds for the 2020 slate of teachers, who will now attend in 2021 and have first choice of sessions.

Audit Committee

Jim Gast will appoint members to an Audit committee to review our finances over the summer. Eric Seaman is preparing an end-of-year financial statement.

Vacant Positions

The Membership chair is vacant since Doug Miller is becoming Secretary. Doug will send out membership renewals reminders in July and assist the incoming chair during the transition.

We will strive to recruit additional members for committees so the burden of work doesn’t fall completely on the chair.

Allison Vaughn will remain as Communications Chair but also become Chat editor.

The Conservation committee chair is still vacant.

Since John Besser is now filling the Past President chair, Bill Mees will chair the Nature Areas committee.

Jim Gast will send out an e-mail to invite the membership to fill any vacant board and committee positions.

John Besser and Eric Wood will co-chair the Field Trips committee

The Hospitality Chair is vacant.

It was discovered that we have been consulting an outdated version of the Bylaws, which omitted that the Past President is a voting member of the board. We’ll track down a current copy of the Bylaws.

Laura Hillman will remain as co-chair of the Bird Counts committee. John and Laura are working towards using eBird as the main vehicle of CAS data collection for the Christmas Bird Count and North American Migratory Bird Count.

Nancy Bedan suggested combining the Hospitality responsibilities with the Vice President, who is already in charge of programming.

Bill Mees volunteers Jan Mees to chair the CoMoGives Committee.

Eric Seaman moves (John Besser seconds) that we approve the committee chairs as suggested. Motion carries.


Nancy Bedan will solicit board members for program ideas during the 2020–2021 season. Given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and whether we will be able to meet at the church, we’ll investigate options for online and outdoor meetings — especially during the earlier part of the season. We may move the picnic to the beginning of the season. John Besser is eager to use the Council House at the Nature School for meetings and programs.

Board Voting by E-mail

We reviewed questions surrounding conducting board votes by e-mail during emergency situations like COVID-19, where the board cannot physically meet. John Besser said that state statues suggest affirming e-mail votes during a substantial board interaction — such as an online meeting, if not a full in-person meeting. Nancy Bedan asked if we should update the bylaws to include provisions for e-mail voting and/or emergency situations when the board cannot meet in person. Nancy suggests that current state rules were last updated in 1995 and do not provide clear guidance; other states do suggest affirming email votes with a 100% majority.

Conservation Chair

Jim Gast suggested that the Conservation committee chair be our designated liaison to the Conservation Federation of Missouri.

Brad Jacobs Memorial

The board discussed memorializing past CAS president Brad Jacobs in some way. Bill suggested a Motus tower (which is part of an international radio telemetry network that tracks the movement and behaviour of small flying animals.) A Motus tower would cost about $4400. John Besser suggested making a donation to the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation towards programs that Brad had participated in and supported. Bill would support a Motus tower instead of an MCHF donation because such a memorial would be a standalone item located here in Missouri, and not lost among many other similar donations. John agreed that a Motus tower would be an appropriate gesture, and would be related to Brad’s work with neotropical migratory birds. Eric Seaman reported we do have funds for such a project. John suggested first inviting members to donate to the memorial, and then funding the remaining amount from the treasury.

We’ll share information about the memorial fund with the membership via e-mail and the Chat; it will direct them to make donations via the website or by check to the P.O. box.

John Besser moves (Lottie Bushman seconds) that CAS spend up to $4400 for a single Motus Tower, with that amount offset by any donations received from the membership. The motion carries.

Jim Gast confirms that he was already discussed the Motus tower project with Sarah Kendrick of MDC, and confirmed that $4400 is the amount that would be required. She sent a map of suggested locations for the tower. There’s a vacancy along Highway 36 in Macon County. Bill added that it would be preferable if the tower was visible to birders; Jean suggested adding a placque; John ventured that some towers are inaccessible; Jim added that some are placed on top of highway patrol towers.

Youth Education Program

Discussion begins regarding the Conservation Federation of Missouri looking for people to sponsor youths. Relevant details are not immediately available for this meeting, so we’ll discuss at a later meeting.

Bill Mees moves (Nancy Bedan seconds) that we table this topic until the next meeting. The motion carries.

Youth Education Program

Columbia Public School has asked if CAS would like to be entered into a random drawing that would determine the participation in a project to redraw school boundaries. The consensus is that there would be many other school partners and citizens with far more interest in this question. We are declining the invitation.


Jim Gast asks if its time to replace the CAS laptop, which is probably around 12 years old and has been experiencing various technical problems. Jim will look at the laptop and see what he thinks. In the meantime, if we have any presenters who do not have their own laptops, one of the board members could offer theirs.

Boone Electric Community Trust

The Boone Electric Community Trust offers grants to eligible 501(c)(3) organizations and public entities. Would we like to apply for a grant such as this to pay for a new laptop? The grant may be used for anything besides administration (such as salaries or rent). We would need to submit two bids for an electronic device and buy it within 6 months. Nancy asks if there’s a limit to the amount of the grants; Jim says none were mentioned. Nancy suggests rennovations to the Wildhaven shelter or interpretive signage at CANS as other possibilities. Nancy will make her laptop available to any presenters who need one during her next two years as Vice President. Laura Hillman agrees that Wildhaven seems like a good project. John Besser will put together a document outlining priorities for Wildhaven and its shelter. There are multiple opportunities to submit applications; the next one is August 1. We’ll think about possible uses of such grant opportunities and discuss at a future meeting.

Albert Children’s Area

A neighbor of the Albert Children’s Area was casually interested in finding out whether we would want to sell it, given that it is not heavily used. We’re not particularly interested in selling this or any other property. The ACA has wildlife value and is protecting the Cedar Creek watershed. But there was a desire to conduct a periodic review of all of our properties in light of their use and habitat quality, especially given the higher cost of insurance coverage. It was noted that a different neighbor of the ACA is selling their property; Doug asked if acquiring this property would resolve access problems to the site. We’ll investigate these questions and bring any proposed action before the membership.

Nature School Council House

Mike Szydlowski, Science Coordinator for Columbia Public Schools, is reporting a change in location of the Nature School Council House, whose construction costs CAS has funded. The original proposed location was on property that has not yet been transferred from the Waters family. Bidding for construction is to take place in August, with work expected to be completed in October. The plans for the floor have also changed: in order to comply with ADA accessibility rules, the dirt floor will now be concrete — with the exception of the fire ring in the center.

Laura Hillman

Laura Hillman was thanked for her time serving as Past President

Bylaws Committee

Eric Seaman identified two amendments to the bylaws that were not included in the outdated document we were consulting: that the Past President is a voting member of the board; and that any substantial expenditure should be brought before the general membership. Bill and Eric are volunteering to serve on a Bylaws Committee that will track down the most recently revised bylaws, and propose other revisions such: as purchasing policies; records retention; and issues involving conducing votes by e-mail.

At 7:20pm the meeting was adjourned