As we finish a year like no other, it is time to reflect and look to the future. Despite its chaos and isolation, 2020 was both busy and productive for the Audubon Society of Omaha.
Late in 2019, with help from UNO and faculty advisor Dr. John McCarty, ASO organized the first Audubon Conservation Student Chapter in Nebraska. Open to all UNO students, the new chapter draws a majority of its members from the Department of Environmental Science. Establishing and nurturing Audubon chapters on college and university campuses is a priority for National Audubon, which worked with ASO and UNO’s nascent chapter to secure grants to jump-start activities and programming.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic has hindered the chapter’s ability to meet in person and conduct some activities, students have adapted admirably to Zoom meetings and, with the aid of the Fontenelle Forest Land Management team, planned a large planting in conjunction with a land management project this December. In September 2020, ASO relocated from the Center Mall to a new facility in central Omaha, consolidating its office with a new warehouse space.
ASO’s primary fundraiser for the past 40 years has been the biannual Bird Seed Sale. In the past, gracious volunteers have provided their garage space to house, store and deliver the purchased seed. But it made sense to move from the three garage sites into a single central space that would increase efficiencies and ease delivery of the seed. Combined with a substantial marketing effort promoting the Fall Sale—featuring a strategic focus on ASO’s Facebook followers that enabled our message to reach a large number of new people—the increased warehouse capacity helped us generate the largest sale in recent years. And volunteers responded by helping deliver the large volume of seed over two days.
Another adaptation we’ve made to ensure organizational continuity and member engagement is the use of the Zoom platform to facilitate in-person Monthly General Meetings. With the help of several volunteers and board members, ASO conducted monthly Zoom meetings this fall from a number of presenters. ASO also has created a new YouTube channel that allows the public to view these recorded programs and, eventually, other videos, as well.
Thanks to all of our volunteers and board members for stepping up and making smooth and effective transitions in all of these efforts. When the restrictions are lifted, we will plan an Open House for all members and volunteers to introduce our new office. Until then, stay connected and stay safe!