Susan McKemy and Deborah Green
Our first presenters were Susan McKemy and Deborah Green. They discussed the importance of utilizing Best Practices, as well as noting how they work with their own boards. One interesting aspect from their presentation was the Dashboard Metrics where information is collected and entered into a spread sheet. Thinning out non-active board members was a point to consider as well as utilizing electronic media to assist in going green.
Helen Obenchain - A special thank you for putting the Academy together.
Charles Lee - Special Places Based Conservation
This topic covers all of Florida and beyond. Connection between people and places help conservation efforts. Saving existing public lands is important but equally so is building a partnership or friendship between land owners (ranchers, farmers, growers) and people. Becoming active is critical to launching a successful campaign. Goal setting and overcoming your fears of involvement was stressed and echoed by Highlands County's own Dr. Paul Gray.
Hurricane Irma has caused considerable damage to Highlands County. We are hoping that everyone is managing the best they can. Our scheduled meeting for September has been cancelled because there isn't electricity in much of Lake Placid, Avon Park, and Sebring. Check our calendar for the next meeting. Remember it is the third Tuesday of each month with covered dish starting at 6:30. We all hope to see you there.
Highlands County Audubon Society
Board Members - Missing from photo Tom Delaney
Bottom Row from left to right: Marilyn Johnson, Roberta Lake, Susan Volpitta, David Forman, Julie Henderson, Fran Rolston, Paula Blair
Top Row from left to right: Dale Gillis, Sue Njus, Jim Upchurch, Steve Blair
Saturday, April 2, 2016 Holmes Avenue Cleanup.
A great big thank you to all who volunteered. Five teams got the job done in record time.
Mark D. and Wife Nancy (unfortunately the did not appear in our photo) ...Board members Helen, David, Dale, Roberta, Fran, Margaret and Bob. Ron and Danielle were invaluable as was of course Vaughn. Highlands County and especially Holmes Avenue is now even more beautiful.
Mark Deyrup Entomology Senior Research Program Director and Research Biologist led the field trip into the Florida Scrub.
See Chip's photos on facebook: Bubba En Christo. And the ranch website is Lagowrancllc.com
South Central Florida Audubon Academy - "Building a Strong Foundation for Your Chapter"
The event was hosted by Highlands County and Hendry-Glades Audubon Chapters on March 5, 2016. Archbold Biological Station was the site for the field trips and sessions. One only has to attend to realize the benefits of chapters working for chapters. The day started with a field trip into the scrub looking for scrub jays. The jays were cooperative and several were sited. Once back at the education center greetings from Highlands' President Bob Hummel, and introductions by Helen Obenchain were conducted. Each attendee introduced themselves and told what bird was their favorite. Many admitted that they did not have one favorite, even stating that their favorite bird was the one they were currently looking at.
Our very own President of Highlands County Audubon, Dale Gillis, speaking at the rally "Vote for Climate Change."
Our new Board Members sworn in Spring of 2017
Jonathan Webber, Cole Frederick and Jacqui Sulek - Birding for Fun, Science and to Build Chapters
Jonathan Webber took us through communications building including Facebook, and other social media. He offered his services to all in attendance that might not be up to speed at his level.
Engaging others by using birds was beautifully addressed by Jacqui when she told of her sisters' student who requested binoculars and a bird book for his birthday instead of the usual toys kindergarten children request. Tips were further presented by Cole who took us on his own journey from not knowing one bird from another to where he is now. Both expressed the importance of working with kids, doing citizen science and working with partners.
Margaret England and John Nelson
Next on the agenda was Margaret England and John Nelson. They expressed the importance of engaging the community in conservation education. Margaret shared her Citizen Science projects with the youth of Hendry and Glades County by utilizing the 4H club. In addition she shared The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Bird Sleuth K-12 packet. Margaret was a former Media Specialist and missed working with students. These programs have allowed her to get back into educating our youth. John Nelson shared his amazing bird videos that he utilizes in his Audubon Field Academy. He stresses that the classes help recruit adults into Audubon and all our conservation efforts. A certified birding course for adults is doable and will help expand chapters.
Dr. Paul Gray, Susan Corbett, and I donated. If you can please do so.
Highlands County Audubon President Bob Hummel received this medal from Florida Atlantic University. Bob graduated the University 1n 1966. Congratulations Bob.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 Guest Speaker R. H. “Chip” Lewis III
I was born in Fort Myers Florida and grew up outside a little town on the south east shore of Lake Okeechobee called Belle Glade. I lived on the University of Florida Everglades Experimental Station until I was nineteen when I got married and moved to town. I also worked there for three years until I was twenty.
While growing up and after, I hunted and fished Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, Big Cypress Swamp and a multitude of other places around Florida enjoying the outdoors and wilderness areas. My father was a Boy Scout Master for thirty two years teaching outdoor skills, opening a world of wonder and beauty.
I moved to Texas over twenty years ago, eventually ending up on the Lagow Ranch where I've been assisting in the implementation of ranch improvements such as drainage, wildlife habitat, pasture and road improvements. This philosophy started with the twins Janet and Jean Lagow's father Joe Lagow who was a conservationist like my own father, putting up Wood Duck nests and other wildlife enhancement practices.
The twins decided to share the ranch and open it to the public for bird watching in 2013. I joined Birds of Texas to learn about the birds of the area and to see what kind of pictures I needed to learn how to take to show the public what was on the ranch to see. You could say I had a crash course on bird identification and even photography! And the learning curve is ongoing.
I pride myself as a hunter which works well for tracking down or finding something specific when someone comes out for a Safari, which is what I call a bird watching tour on the ranch.
Our very own Margaret Gleave and Helen Obenchain. My such a wonderful photo.
Scrub jay photos by Jim Upchurch
Florida Grasshopper Sparrow Fund
The Florida Grasshopper Fund was established to support urgent needs to prevent the extinction of the Florida grasshopper sparrow. This bird inhabits the dry prairie habitat of central Florida and is considered the most endangered bird in the continental United States. The Grasshopper Sparrow Fund provides resources to continue captive breeding efforts and critical research. Based on 2017 surveys, biologists estimate that there are fewer than 30 pairs of Florida grasshopper sparrows in the wild, a threshold that places the species under extreme risk of extinction. A captive breeding program for the FGSP was initiated in 2015, with aims to supplement the FGSP in the wild at the earliest opportunity. Currently, there are 30 sparrows in captivity. Being a ground-nesting bird, FGSP are especially vulnerable to being preyed upon by mammals, snakes, and even fire ants. Nests can also be flooded by heavy or sustained rains. Protecting nests from predators and flooding has helped to dramatically increase their chance of survival. All this was learned through monitoring and research over the last several years, but many questions remain unanswered. You can help support our efforts to save this very rare Florida native bird. Your donations will be used to:
Expand captive breeding facilities by constructing more enclosures that mimic natural habitat and encourage natural behaviors
Continue support for care of captive birds
Prepare for releasing captive-bred birds back into the wild
Continue research and monitoring of wild birds
Continue to mitigate threats such as predators and flooding as they are identified
Learn more about the endangered Florida grasshopper sparrow here