by Gael Bissell, President

Welcome to our next Flathead Audubon season! I am excited if not bit nervous taking the helm after one incredible Kay Mitchell. Wasn’t she amazing? So organized, knew all your names, served on every committee, and led our Chapter through historic growth and successes such as helping develop our first website, establishing highly organized newsletter and budgeting processes, administering the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch agreements, taking full aim at Owen Sowerwine Natural Area (OSNA) weed infestations, helping expand our Birds of Prey Festival, working with many new grantors, and raising a whopping $15,000 for West Valley. Last year we broke our membership record with 418 total members.

This year, we are rolling out some exciting new changes such as an updated and more easily used logo, procuring new FAS merch, creating a membership card with perks such as discounts for bird seed, and lining out our new partnership with Flathead Land Trust on bird education at several new bird viewing areas. We will also be kicking off the OSNA outdoor classroom program. As many of you know, we only are able to accomplish all of these great community programs, field trips, public meetings, Birds of Prey Festival, Jewel Basin Hawk Watch and other projects with the incredible dedication of our all-volunteer board, the incredible talent of Denny Olson, our Conservation/Education Coordinator, and the help of at least 20-30 dedicated volunteers. 

Sooooo, if you have not yet experienced volunteerism with FAS, now is your chance. People tell me it’s rather addicting. Big or small, there are many opportunities from weed pulling and trail work at Owen Sowerwine, to helping with Birds of Prey Festival, to serving on one or our committees like Conservation, Membership, Hospitality, Grants, or Education. For those interested in education, we are beginning to develop our volunteer base for the Owen Sowerwine Outdoor Classroom. If you would like to get more information or sign up as a volunteer, contact one of the board members or Committee folks via the contact information at the end of this newsletter or visit with us at our general meetings. Oh and thanks to all our past awesome volunteers!