In November, the National Audubon Society certified UNO’s Audubon Campus Chapter, sponsored by ASO, keeping National Audubon on track to certify 50 Campus Chapters by the end of this year and 150 by the end of 2020. Designed to increase student engagement in conservation and environmental activism, the initiative to create Campus Chapters has been a National priority since 2018. It offers students a seat at the table and the autonomy to drive local efforts aligned with National objectives, with the support of traditional Audubon Chapters, such as ASO.
With help from Cornell-trained ornithologist Dr. John McCarty, who leads UNO’s Environmental Program, ASO identified 30 Campus Chapter members and five student officers through targeted marketing and an organization fair. All are Environmental Science majors looking for meaningful fieldwork and networking opportunities with conservation professionals. ASO has found several local partners to provide those opportunities, including: Fontenelle Forest Land Stewardship; Pottawattamie Conservation (the agency overseeing Hitchcock Nature Center); and UNO’s own research station at Glacier Creek Preserve, in northwest Douglas County. ASO continues to seek additional partners. Recent UNO graduate Michaela Johnson, a restoration biologist at Fontenelle Forest, serves as liaison for the Chapter.
At the Chapter’s first event, 17 members removed invasive honeysuckle from the History Trail at Fontenelle Forest and spotted several Red-headed Woodpeckers on a 1.5 mile birding hike that also netted incredible views of the devastation created by this year’s flooding.