Open Letter from the CEO on Audubon’s Title
This previous 12 months, the Nationwide Audubon Society launched into a course of to reexamine the title of our group, in gentle of the private historical past of the group’s namesake, John James Audubon.
Our group was named after John James Audubon, a naturalist and illustrator, greater than 50 years after his dying. His work was an essential contribution to the sphere of ornithology within the mid-Nineteenth century and there could be little doubt of the influence of his life’s work and fervour for birds. And but—he was additionally an enslaver whose racist views and remedy of Black and Indigenous individuals should be reckoned with. Learn extra about John James Audubon right here.
Early final 12 months, the Board of Administrators of the Nationwide Audubon Society started an analysis course of to find out whether or not our group ought to transfer ahead bearing his title. This course of was thorough, spanning greater than a 12 months and involving in depth suggestions from stakeholders inside and out of doors the group.
This is a matter that elicits robust views. I personally heard from many voices throughout our community with differing opinions on the correct path ahead, as did the Board, which was factored into their decision-making.
In March 2023, the Board of Administrators voted to retain the group’s present title—the Nationwide Audubon Society. Learn extra concerning the Board’s determination right here.
We’re at a pivotal second as a corporation and as a conservation motion extra broadly. The urgency of our local weather and biodiversity crises compels us to marshal our sources towards the areas of biggest influence for birds and folks. This implies centering fairness, variety, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB) values in our programmatic work, in addition to our inside operations, and implementing our new five-year Strategic Plan—core to which is our EDIB dedication. Whatever the title we use, this group should and can handle the inequalities and injustices which have traditionally existed throughout the conservation motion.
I perceive individuals could also be questioning how that’s potential if Audubon stays in our title. That could be a query the Board has grappled with, and finally, they determined that the group transcends one particular person’s title. “Audubon” has come to represent our mission and important achievements that this group has made in its lengthy historical past.
As we transfer ahead, we’ll mindfully craft a brand new future and strategically marshal sources to maximise influence. In doing so, it’s vital to empower and useful resource work to completely notice our values of fairness, variety, inclusion, and belonging. We’ve due to this fact introduced a brand new $25 million dedication to fund the growth of EDIB-specific work in each inside and conservation initiatives over the following 5 years.
Our conservation work to guard birds additionally impacts individuals and communities as properly. We should be sure that our affect is felt in these communities who’ve traditionally been excluded by the conservation motion and people who are most affected by the threats of local weather change. Our dedication to increasing our funding for our EDIB work will allow the group to construct on its success co-developing options with communities of colour, as we did with the Little Calumet Marsh Restoration Challenge, and develop instructional packages designed to achieve college students of colour, as we did in our Native Crops program within the Delta area. We are going to broaden our efforts to associate with Indigenous communities, like we’ve with our Boreal Conservation program.
The Nationwide Audubon Society has taken many kinds all through its lengthy and storied historical past: from the founding ladies of the Audubon motion who rallied towards the chook commerce, to activists who helped advocate for the creation of the Environmental Safety Company, to as we speak’s expansive and numerous community of greater than 450 native chapters and 160 campus chapters throughout the nation.
As we speak, Audubon is dedicated to uniting individuals from all walks of life who share a love of birds and a dedication to defending their environments. As we transfer ahead, we’ll construct on the distinctive accomplishments in conservation that this group has made since its founding by bringing collectively communities throughout the Americas to guard birds and the locations they want.