Approved October 16, 2013
The mission of the Columbia Audubon Society (CAS) is “to preserve the natural world and its ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and the earth’s biological diversity through education, environmental study and habitat restoration and protection.”
CAS is an unusual chapter of the National Audubon Society in that it possesses significant landholdings, is on a solid financial footing, and has maintained a long, unbroken tradition of participation in citizen science projects.
The previous CAS Long Range Plan was completed in 2004. During the intervening years the overall membership of CAS — like many wildlife and ecology groups — has become skewed towards older people who are increasingly ready to hand over the reins of leadership. Meanwhile, younger people do not seem as engaged or active in wildlife and ecological issues as in the past, which could threaten the society’s long-term membership. Furthermore, the mid-Missouri area served by CAS has seen a tremendous increase in land development, with a corresponding decrease in the quantity and quality of natural habitat for birds and other wildlife.
These are serious challenges, but because of strong resources, the maturation of restoration work at the nature areas, and increasing use of the web to foster better communication and collaboration, CAS is uniquely poised to explore new avenues to carry out its mission.
Following is a list of proposed activities that CAS could undertake in the following years to encourage the growth and participation of its membership, and to continue its mission.
A. Nature Areas.
- Planning. In order to aide implementation, communication and to invite collaboration, create publicly-available plans for the management of all four nature areas:
- Use. To prioritize limited resources, specify roles for each area, e.g. Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary prioritizes education, Wild Haven Nature Area prioritizes wildness, etc.
- Restoration. Assess current ecological condition, define the final desired state of restoration, as well as the tasks, manpower, expenses and time required to achieve and maintain that state.
- Invite participation from other local groups and/or contract outside labor (e.g. Americorp) if CAS does not have the manpower to complete restoration projects within the planned timeline.
- Facilities. Identify any new facility projects (parking lot, bridges, benches, trails, etc.), and plan for the maintenance of existing facilities.
- Interpretation. Develop any needed physical signage, brochures, and electronic resources to provide interpretive information to nature area visitors: maps, guides, species lists, etc.
- Education. Provide access to school groups and science programs, as well as develop curriculum units and activities based upon CAS nature areas.
- Make nature areas available to trained, responsible researchers.
- Perform and/or support research to document the ongoing ecological state of CAS nature areas.
- Land Management. Periodically review land holdings and monitor opportunities to acquire affordable, reasonably intact and/or restorable nature areas.
- Partnerships. Collaborate with neighboring landowners to encourage appropriate land management practices.
- Youth Programs.
- Promote school- and youth organization-based programs and activities using outdoor classroom areas at schools and at our own facilities.
- Continue the support of Project Feederwatch in classrooms.
- Develop birding clubs and other birding activities for youths.
- Teacher Scholarships. Provide financial assistance to local educators for bird/ecology teacher development programs.
- Student Scholarships. Develop criteria for financial assistance to local students for bird/ecology programs or higher education.
- Public Information. Provide bird/ecology information to the public through field trips, monthly programs, and information on CAS website.
- Partnerships. Collaborate with public groups, school systems, individual schools and/or teachers to support bird/ecology education.
C. Public Policy
- Issue public statements on current local ecological and environmental issues, both supporting positive efforts and opposing threats to wildlife and habitat.
- Propose changes to public policy in support of our mission.
- Support public agencies in protecting wildlife and restoring habitat.
- Research. Support research projects that would inform public debate about ecological issues in Boone County and central Missouri.
- Awards. Recognize contributions to wildlife protection, ecology and citizen science through the presentation of awards.
- Partnerships. Collaborate with other interest groups and government agencies to advocate for protection of critical environments in Boone County and central Missouri.
- Columbia Nature Center. Collaborate with the City of Columbia, and other local groups and businesses, to include a nature center at Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary as part of the 2015 Columbia Parks Sales Tax ballot. In exchange for our support and possible financial assistance, CAS would have access to the nature center for meetings and other chapter activities.
D. Citizen Science
- Bird Counts. Continue participating in the Christmas Bird Count and North American Migratory Bird Count. Invite student participation in counts through public schools.
- Bird Monitoring. Continue Bluebird nest box trails at CAS Nature Areas and the 3M Flat Branch-Hinkson Creek Wetlands.
- Statewide Bird Sightings. Continue to encourage members to document statewide bird sightings through CACHE/SPARKS.
- CAS Area Bird Sightings. Develop a bird sighting documentation system for CAS nature areas.
- Partnerships. Collaborate with other bird/ecology groups and government agencies on bird/ecology monitoring projects.
- Institutional Knowledge: document and archive all CAS proceedings and science data.
- Communications-Public Relations
- Transparency. Make all CAS proceedings and science data publicly available.
- Speakers Bureau.
- Media. Event announcements and thank-yous placed in public media, like the newspaper.
- Newsletter. Share newsletter with like like-minded organizations.
- Brochure. CAS brochure placed in public places: library, Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Bureau, Parks & Rec.
- Continue to provide opportunities for non-members to become involved in CAS activities through monthly speaker series, providing CAS speakers to the community, field trips, service projects, citizen science projects, school activities, and public work days.
- Recruit new members and encourage the participation of younger people to ensure the continuation of CAS mission and its projects into the future.
- Fill all vacant board/committee positions.
- Foster business partnerships.
- Financial Status:
- Determine the proportion of funds to be dedicated to projects and activities versus long-term investment.
- Investigate fundraising efforts, such as selling merchandise or holding fundraising events.
- Foster business partnerships.
- Use the Long Range Plan as a template for creating an annual plan at the beginning of each season to select and prioritize specific projects.
- Revisit the Long Range Plan no later than a full rotation of directors, i.e. every 6 years.