By Suzie Reynolds with excerpts from National Audubon Society*
*National Audubon Society Announces Decision to retain Current Name, https://www.audubon.org/news/national-audubon-society-announces-decision-retain-current-name
The Board of Trustees for the Lahontan Audubon Society (LAS) has voted to retain the organization’s current name and to continue as a Chapter of the National Audubon Society (NAS). The LAS Board believes that the enjoyment and protection of birds should be open and available for all people. We agree with NAS that retaining the name would enable both LAS and NAS to direct key resources and focus towards enacting the organizations’ missions.
To emphasize its beliefs that bird conservation is important for all people, NAS has announced a commitment to the expansion of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (EDIB). LAS has been actively working towards EDIB as is evidenced through our Bird Walks for the Blind, Bird Walks for the Hearing Impaired, streamed monthly Program Meetings, and our holding most events open to the public and at no cost. We at LAS know there is more to do in terms of EDIB and have been increasing our outreach in terms of EDIB per our strategic plan for the past four years. We welcome your input and invite you to please send us your ideas and suggestions on ways to reach our EDIB goals in our area of Nevada.
North America has lost three billion birds since 1970. Birds act as early-warning systems about the health of our planet, and they are telling us that birds—and our planet—are in crisis. In Nevada, LAS volunteers are actively working on projects to benefit the Greater Sage Grouse, Pinyon Jays and shorebirds and their habitats through citizen science and advocacy. LAS also educates the public about the importance of birds and conservation through various events including bird identification workshops, field trips for students as well as for adults, classroom visits, lectures, and information booths at area festivals and events. Based on the critical threats to birds that must urgently be addressed and the need to remain a non-partisan force for conservation, the retention of the Audubon name would provide clout and recognition for the conservation efforts engaged in by both NAS and LAS.
Susan Bell, Chair of the National Audubon Society’s Board of Directors, commented, “This is an important time for birds and our shared planet, and this decision positions the organization to focus our equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging efforts and our conservation work where it is most urgently needed. After careful consideration, the Board elected to retain our name. The name has come to represent so much more than the work of one person, but a broader love of birds and nature, and a non-partisan approach to conservation. We must reckon with the racist legacy of John James Audubon and embody our EDIB values in all that we do. In doing so, we will ensure that Audubon stands for an inclusive future in which we unite diverse coalitions to protect birds and the places they need.”
The National Audubon Society was founded in 1905 and named after John James Audubon, fifty years after his death. Audubon was a naturalist and illustrator whose work was an important contribution to the field of ornithology in the mid-19th century. He was also an enslaver, whose racism and harmful attitudes toward Black and Indigenous people are now well-understood. NAS has committed to ensuring that it continues to promote an awareness and understanding of the problematic legacy of John James Audubon, the man, and the inequalities that have been inherent in the conservation movement. The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive.
As the Lahontan Audubon Society celebrates its 60th year as a conservation organization we too believe in a world where people and wildlife live together in harmony. We hope you will join us in our commitment to the conservation of birds and their habitats through education, citizen science, and communication.
We at the Lahontan Audubon Society are “For the Birds, For All!”