• Vote for Birds and Nature

    Vote for the birdsMuch has happened over the last several years, and now is the time to stop and assess how well our government has met our goals: OUR goals, the will of the people. Nothing is more important than electing representatives at all levels who will promote the values of the majority. But our government does not know the will of the people if we don't vote! Voting, especially in Florida where so many elections are very close, is our most important way of declaring our sentiments and strongest beliefs.

    David Yarnold, CEO of the National Audubon Society, made a passionate plea for voting in the Summer 2020 Audubon Magazine: “If you value birds, vote for candidates who will uphold laws that will protect them like the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. If you value clean water and clean air, vote for candidates who will uphold and strengthen the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.” He went on to encourage everyone to look at candidates’ plans concerning climate and energy.

    These are important issues, and it's critical that we use our voice, our vote, to elect candidates who will put environmental issues front and center. It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of life on our planet is at stake.

    Here’s what you need to know about voting in Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties:

    Clay County:

    Primary Election: August 18, early voting for primary August 6-15; must already be registered to vote in this primary.

    General Election: November 3, early voting October 19-31; register to vote before October 5 if not already registered.

    Vote by Mail: All registered voters in Florida may vote by mail. In Clay County, you must submit your request for a mail-in ballot at least 10 days before the election, either in person, by telephone, or on the Clay County Supervisor of Elections website. Your signed ballot must be returned in the envelope provided and received no later than 7 pm on the day of the election. By Florida law, mail-in ballots may NOT be dropped off at a polling location on the day of the election.

    Duval County:

    Primary Election: August 18, early voting for primary August 3-16; must already be registered to vote in this primary.

    General Election: November 3, early voting October 19-November 1; register to vote before October 5 if not already registered.

    Vote by Mail: Duval County mail-in ballots may be requested in person, by telephone, or on the Duval County Supervisor of Elections website. You must request your mail-in ballot for the primary by August 8 and the general election by October 5. Your signed mail-in ballot must be received no later than 7 pm on the day of the election. (Note: at the time of this writing, the Duval County Supervisor of Elections office is closed to the public due to the current worldwide health crisis. Check their website for updates as things may change.) You can drop off your mail-in ballot at any early voting site, but they cannot be accepted at a polling location on the day of the election.

    Nassau County:

    Primary Election: August 18, early voting for primary August 3-16; must already be registered to vote in this primary.

    General Election: November 3, early voting October 19 – November 1; register to vote by October 5 if not already registered.

    Vote by Mail: As with Clay and Duval counties, you may request a mail-in ballot in person, by phone, or online. Requests must be received at least 10 days before the date of the election and must be returned in the envelope provided no later than 7 pm on the day of the election. Your signed mail-in ballot may be dropped off at any early voting location but cannot be accepted at a polling location on the day of the election. Nassau County has a drop box in front of their government building at 96135 Nassau Place in Yulee that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    Please do not think your vote doesn’t count, because it does. We strongly encourage everyone to exercise your right and VOTE. It is your chance to make your voice heard.

    --Carolyn Antman, Conservation Director for Duval County


     
  • Many Voices for Conservation and the Environment

    Chris ConnorIn recognition of the need for environmental organizations like ours to do a better job of representing diverse voices, we are beginning a new series highlighting the contributions of African Americans, Latin Americans, and Native Americans to conservation and environmental sciences. We are thrilled to kick things off by introducing our newest board member Christopher Conner, who will serve as our Volunteer Director.

    Chris is the coordinator of the Jacksonville Zoo’s W.I.L.D. (Wildlife Immersion and Leadership Development) Program, which focuses on youth engagement, literacy, environmental education, cultural representation, and inclusion. Since its 2016 inauguration, the mostly Black and Latinx teens involved have created award-winning outreach programs, amassed nearly $1 million in college scholarships, and achieved global recognition for their work. The W.I.L.D. program and its staff have received several awards, including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums 2017 Significant Achievement in Diversity Award, the North American Association for Environmental Education Under 30 Global Awards (twice), the Jax Teen Champion Award, and the 2019 12 Who Care Community Service Award.

    Chris has always had an innate passion for wildlife and greenspaces. He ventured into conservation education with the specific intention of reimagining the face of environmental education and championing cultural representation and social equity. He is most passionate about environmental literacy and equity, as our journey to sustainability will require many different approaches and voices. He believes that everyone should have the opportunity to learn about the environment and build their relationship with nature on their own terms. As Chris says, “Nature is owned by no one, yet represents us all. Therefore, all of our voices should be echoed when championing for it.”

    Going forward, Chris plans to continue with his current work as the W.I.L.D. Program Coordinator, and one of his goals for 2020 is to create a nature podcast that connects to a wider audience for nature, and moves environmental literacy forward in a way that is entertaining and informative.

    Thank you for your work for the environment, Chris!

    --Jody Willis, Vice President and Outreach Director


     
  • Membership Matters!

    If you aren't already a member of Audubon, join our chapter during the month of August and you could win some nice goodies!

    Kingsley Plantation watermark CBW 201810 3Why does membership matter? We are a chapter of the National Audubon Society, and our mission is, "Connecting people with nature, conserving and restoring natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife." We achieve this through education, conservation, environmental leadership, and community involvement.

    Our regular readers know that we offer a variety of opportunities to learn about birds from experts in the field, and also how to create welcoming environments for birds with creative landscaping, native plants, water features, and feeding stations. And even now, when our activities have been curtailed due to the worldwide pandemic, we offer actionable information via our website, our social media outlets, and in our monthly newsletters on how you can enjoy and support birds at home, in your yard, and in your community.

    Duval Audubon Society can keep you informed of current issues and how you can make your voice heard. Your support helps us stand up for birds, defending the stable habitat that they – and we all – require. When you join us, you will be joining a community of people, not only across northeast Florida but also across the nation, who care about creating a bright and sustainable future for birds and the environment. Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to protect birds right in your backyard.

    Membership Campaign Prize Package 202008So if you are not currently a member of Audubon, we encourage you to join! Everyone who joins Duval Audubon during the month of August will be eligible for the drawing, and the winner will receive an Audubon tote bag and coffee mug, a cool new ball cap with our Duval Audubon logo, and a copy of National Audubon Society's The Sibley Guide to Birds.

    The lucky winner will be selected by a random drawing from all the new members this month. If you have questions about your membership, contact Membership Director Christine Lucas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We will notify the winner in early September.

    Join now, for a chance at a great prize package and the satisfaction of knowing that your support is critical in protecting the birds we all love so much.

    --Christine Lucas, Membership Director


     
  • Chapter History Project

    Like many of you, your Duval Audubon board members are spending more time at home because of the worldwide health crisis. Conservation director Carolyn Antman recently came across several boxes full of binders with news clippings, letters, and other documents collected during the early years of our chapter, which was formed in February of 1939 with 24 charter members.

    Carolyn and board president Carol Bailey-White have been going through the notebooks with the ultimate goal of compiling a timeline of our chapter’s fascinating history, a long-term project that won’t be complete for quite some time. But some stories really stand out, and as the project progresses, we will be sharing some of the most interesting stories as we come across them.

    19660317 USPS 50th anniversary of the MBTA commemorative stampOne of the documents is an article that was published in the Florida Times-Union on March 17, 1966. It tells the story of local artist Burt E. Pringle, who won the United States Postal Service design contest that year for the stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. His artwork depicts a bird flying north and another flying south above the United States-Canadian border, and the design was described by then Jacksonville Postmaster James E. Workman, Jr. as being “the most beautiful one the post office has received in a long time.”

    Burt PringleMr. Pringle, who passed away last year at the age of 90, was a skilled watercolor artist and member of the Florida Watercolor Society, and also designed commemorative medallions for the National Park Service and other high-profile celebrations. Over the years, he designed several additional United States postage stamps and received honors from the United Nations for his graphic postal designs. He was also a talented poet and published nine volumes of poetry, most featuring his own artwork on the cover. His published works are still available on Amazon and other online outlets. A true Renaissance man, Mr. Pringle was also an accomplished ballroom dancer, and has been credited for establishing two local dance clubs, Club Savoy in Jacksonville (now closed) and The Riverview Club in St. Augustine.

    Although we couldn’t find any evidence that Mr. Pringle had ever been directly involved with our chapter, his stamp design commemorating the MBTA connects his remarkable life with our own love of birds and nature. We salute you, Mr. Pringle!

    --Carol Bailey-White, President


     
  • Fall Activities Planning

    With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, we have reluctantly concluded that it is not safe for us to host group outings this fall as we have done in the past. It would be extremely difficult for our volunteer field trip leaders to observe the necessary social distancing and other precautions to keep themselves and attendees protected, and still be able to help participants see and hear birds encountered on the walk. We regret having to make this decision, but we just aren't willing to risk the health of our volunteers and bird walk participants.

    Crosby blue trail watermark CBW 20160528 104029However, our Crosby Sanctuary conservation property in Orange Park is a perfect place to get some outdoor time on your own in a beautiful natural setting, so beginning in September we're resuming our monthly Crosby Open House events on the fourth Saturday of every month. The gates will be opened at 8 am and you can explore the preserve on your own until we close the gates at 12 noon. There are approximately 2.5 miles of hiking trails through the preserve, and walking the full trails will take about 1.5 - 2 hours, depending on your walking speed. No group activities will be offered during the Open House - it's just an opportunity for folks to enjoy nature in our favorite place. More information on these monthly events will be posted soon.

    We are also pivoting to presenting our monthly informational programs online via Zoom and our Facebook page rather than hosting in-person meetings at a physical location. The first program will be presented on Monday, September 21st, and we have exciting programs lined up for the rest of the year as well. Details and instructions for Zoom participation will be available soon on our website as well as our Meetup page and social media outlets.

    The worldwide health crisis has resulted in abrupt changes in normal activities for just about everyone, and we at Duval Audubon Society appreciate your patience and understanding as we adapt to what may be the new normal. Our focus on sharing our love of birds and nature hasn't changed, though, and we very much look forward to the day when we can safely offer bird walks and field trips again.

    --Carol Bailey-White, President