by Gael Bissell, President

Gosh, it’s already that time of year where you receive innumerable end of year appeals from dozens of worthy non-profit organizations. It can be a struggle to decide if and how much to give and to which organization.

What it comes down to for me, what motivates me, is seeing those dollars work locally and efficiently. I like to hear what the organization is actually doing? How many people do they serve? Do they get things done? Do my dollars make a difference? Do they walk the talk?

I believe Flathead Audubon is one of our most effective and transparent local conservation organizations. We successfully meet our mission each year to impact our community through innovative Conservation/Education programs led by Denny Olson and others.

We are also that local organization who tweaks our programs in response to a changing world and new opportunities and needs, who maintains and restores the 442-acre Owen Sowerwine Natural Area, and sustains important projects such as the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch and Birds of Prey Festival. Flathead Audubon also tracks and comments on many issues affecting our local environment; offers 20-30 field trips a year; contributes to local conservation projects; promotes collaboration with like-minded organizations; and sustains and improves our newsletter, public programming, and other vital communications with you and the public. Everything we do is free and open to the public.

We serve about 6,500 people a year and also provide significant contributions to the Daily Interlake’s Outdoor Report. We are primarily an all-volunteer organization but we do need to fund our half time Conservation/Education contractor and other expenses associated with all of the above. We are that organization that over time, get kids outdoors as we enter a digital world and constantly reminds all folks of the importance of our ecosystems through the world of birds.

This year’s Challenge is still a Board vs Members Challenge but with a twist. We are asking all past and present Board members (about 50 of us) to challenge the other approximately 350 general Membership to see who can raise the most for Flathead Audubon by December 31, 2019. Last year, Membership beat the Board by a significant margin but together we raised just over $7,000. This year, we hope to meet or beat that goal! You can see how you/we are doing on our website,, where we update the results weekly. If you want to be on the winning team again, just feel free to head over and donate lavishly!   Many thanks for your help!