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ASO News

Eastern Kingbird by Mike Benkis

Special Events

Field Notes from the President

I would like to introduce myself to those of you in the Audubon Society who I haven’t had the pleasure to meet. I am the new president for the 2019-20 year. My involvement with ASO has spanned the last four years as a Board of Director and the 1st Vice President. Many of you may have met me through your experiences with ASO and wondered about my background. I am not a lifelong birder nor am I a restoration biologist like my friend and our past president Matt Miller. My strong suit is that as a retired Nurse Anesthetist, I am able and willing to volunteer. Trained as a microbiologist, I do have a fairly intense science background. My exposure to birding began some 45 years ago during my last year in college. All Biology students were required to take a graduate level course in an area that was not within their area of specialization. My choice? Ornithology. The ornithology course was a series of 6 birding field trips. The real reason I chose this course was that before each field trip the professor’s wife would cook a full breakfast for the students. Nothing more was needed to spur my interest in birding.

A thirty-five year career in anesthesia ensued after that initial exposure to birding. When I contemplated my retirement, I turned back to birding and was rewarded with new friends and volunteer opportunities. I was lucky enough to run into several people in the Omaha area who were not only very good birders but very good people who got me back into the world of birding and spending time outdoors. So thanks, Clem, Neal and Deb, Laurine, Rick and many others.

The point of all of this is to show you that being a volunteer has more to do with the ability to seek out involvement rather than being an expert in what you are volunteering for. The ASO, like many nonprofits, relies on volunteers for its very existence. This year’s ASO Board of Directors and officers are committed to volunteerism. If you would like to volunteer, know that there are a myriad of volunteer opportunity with ASO. This year’s Art Show had over 400 entries from local children. Each of those entries had to be collected by a volunteer, hung in a gallery setting by a volunteer and judged by a volunteer. An awards ceremony was judged by several volunteers, and the art work had to be taken down. You get the idea. Volunteers are also needed for regular bulk mailings, our fall and spring bird seed fundraisers, community outreach events such as Earth Day, and speaking on behalf of the ASO at general meetings. An important area of ongoing and increasing need is help with land stewardship at the ASO Prairie and the new Cuming Cemetery property north of Blair.

To volunteer for these or other opportunities, please visit the ASO website at and fill out a volunteer form under the volunteer heading. A list of this year’s committees is included in this newsletter. Serving on a standing committee is an excellent way to participate on a regular basis.

My priorities for the year include continuing the ongoing ASO education program via scheduled after school programs, increasing the participation of the ASO membership by reaching out to a variety of groups and providing a variety of opportunities for committee membership. I intend to reach out to the area universities to explore a new program from National Audubon promoting campus chapters. I will be attending the National Audubon Convention in Milwaukee the third week of July of this year. Please feel free to contact me at 2019-2020 Audubon Committee