March 18, 2020

Present: Bill Mees, Eric Seaman, Doug Miller, Allison Vaughn, Greg Leonard, Nancy Bedan. John Besser and Eric Reuter participated by phone.

Vice President Bill M called the meeting to order at 6 p.m.

Spring Meeting Schedule:  John B said church officials don’t want large groups to meet at the building during the coronavirus outbreak. He noted that Mike Powell, executive director of the Greenbelt Land Trust, was scheduled to present the CAS April program, but since Greenbelt has cancelled its upcoming activities, the CAS program and a related field trip should be cancelled. Doug M moved (Greg L seconded) that CAS cancel its April meeting and make a decision about the May meeting later. Motion approved without dissent.

John said the board could consider having “Zoom” meetings for the rest of the year or having outdoor meetings at a picnic shelter. Bill M will follow up with church administrators about board meetings and investigate other options as well.

Minutes:  Eric S moved (Doug M seconded) approval of minutes from the February 19, 2020, special membership meeting, with one correction. Motion approved without dissent.

2019 CoMoGives Final Report:  Nancy B cited the written report sent to board members. She noted that 2019 was the fifth year CAS has participated in CoMoGives and that we have received $35,351 through the community-wide, non-profit fundraiser so far, not including the two $500 Challenge Grants received from the Community Foundation of Central Missouri in 2018 and 2019. She estimated the total of funds received after campaign expenses to be about $30,000. She said that she is stepping down as CoMoGives committee chair this year, so the board will need to appoint a new chair for the 2020 campaign. She also suggested adding the CoMoGives Committee to the list of CAS board committees.

Field Trip Report:  Eric R, via speaker phone, said that the written report sent to board members was already out of date, given the quickly changing advice concerning the coronavirus outbreak. He recommended not scheduling any official field trips or events in April and being consistent with other organizations. John B said it’s unfortunate because field trips are generally safe and have positive health benefits. Eric R agreed on the benefits of outdoor activity but said that we can encourage people to do healthy things outdoors without getting together. He said that Joanna hopes to publish information in the “Chat” that engages people in birding without organized events or getting together.

Board members discussed the liability statement that now appears at the beginning of each field trip announcement sent to members and posted on the website. Bill M said, while he agrees with the statement, he would have preferred having board members discuss the statement before posting it.

Insurance Report:  Eric R, via speaker phone, asked board members to share questions and concerns about the insurance information and costs he provided by e-mail. Board members voiced several questions and suggestions about the insurance proposals from State Farm and from the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group (NIAG), including–

  • Does CAS need coverage for improper sexual conduct ($700 per year)?
  • Some costs for hospitalization seem low.
  • What would higher coverage on accident insurance cost?
  • CAS should pay the premium once a year.
  • What does the land coverage in the proposal include? Is the premium for land coverage tied to each of CAS’ four properties, or does it cover total acreage?
  • Could we lower the premium by opting for a $250 deductible for accident insurance?

Eric R said the board pays $1,400 a year for its current, limited insurance coverage. John B noted that the $3,746 annual premium for the proposed new policy is a large increase, but that CAS would have significantly more coverage for the additional dollars. Eric said the committee initially contacted other Audubon chapters to find out what types of insurance they carried. The Burroughs chapter in Kansas City has coverage through NIAG; the Springfield chapter does not have coverage; and St. Louis Audubon didn’t respond. Board members expressed appreciation to Eric R for the work that he and his committee have done to secure the information and the proposals. Board members should e-mail any additional questions to Eric. He will get answers to the questions raised and send an updated report to the board.

Treasurer’s Report and 2020-21 Budget Proposal: Board members reviewed the current treasurer’s report. Treasurer Eric S noted that the CAS financial statement indicates that the $30,000 gift to the Nature School hasn’t been taken out of the CAS investment account yet. Board members discussed the proposed budget for 2020-21. Eric S noted that we will need to approve the budget by May 31. He said the projected expenditure for insurance will need to be updated when the board makes a decision on the new policy. The proposed budget currently provides $3,500 for teacher grants, which would send up to three teachers to the Audubon Camp at Hog Island, Me., and $3,500 for student grants. Board members discussed reducing those numbers to accommodate higher insurance expenses. The proposed budget does not include expenditures for improvements at Wild Haven Nature Sanctuary; John B said there is work that needs to be done at Wild Haven, but he is not ready to move forward with the projects. Nancy B suggested leaving the projected donations from CoMoGives at a conservative $5,000 instead of increasing them to $7,600.

Board Election and Officers: John B reported on board and committee vacancies for 2020-21, noting that the by-laws call for a nominating committee of one board member and two general members. He will review the CAS membership list to identify potential nominating committee members. We are behind the election timeline specified in the by-laws, but we have time to work on this, he said. Elected board positions that will need to be filled for the new year include president, vice president and one at-large board member. Eric R said that he is considering stepping down as field trip chair. A newsletter editor (a member of the Communications Committee) and a CoMoGives Committee chair also will be needed. John B will write an article about the open positions for the April “Chat,” and he invited board members to send him names of potential candidates.

CANS Prairie:  Bill M reported on plans to expand the prairie at Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary to the west side of the property. He has talked to an individual who will provide the herbicide (Roundup) applications for $1,200 per application. Four applications are planned in spring and fall of 2020 and spring and fall of 2021, followed by seeding in the winter of 2021-22. Bill said CAS has $14,000 in donated funds for the prairie project, which should cover all costs. Plans include having volunteers and perhaps students from Fairview School harvest and spread seeds. Bill recommends that we purchase most of the seed for this project, because commercial spreaders don’t spread hammermilled seed. He said that he will block off the west acreage at the bridge during the herbicide application and post signage advising visitors not to use the trails.

Nature School:  John B reported that he has not received information yet about the ground-breaking ceremony for the Nature School, which was scheduled for March 31. Board members briefly discussed possible names for the CAS-funded Council House. The board is considering naming the facility the Columbia Audubon-Koster Council House, in honor of Joseph “Bo” Koster; a 2011 gift from Dr. Koster’s estate made the $30,000 CAS donation for the facility possible. Eric S will contact the trustee for the Koster estate to see if Dr. Koster’s family would like to respond or participate in the naming process.

Board Directory: Bill M asked members to check the current Board Directory for accuracy.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:50 p.m.