by Denny Olson FAS Conservation Educator

Denny OlsonI spent four years as a member of Flathead Audubon’s Board of Directors and Chair of the Education Committee. It has been a wonderful time – not just because this is by far the most committed, hard-working board I have ever experienced, or because together we generated two exciting new projects in our detailed education strategic plan and a successful phenology calendar fundraising product. For me, it is about my new set of Audubon friends. Odd as it may seem, I can’t wait to go to board meetings and Audubon events, because of very valued friends there.

But my role has changed. I now work for the Board, as the Flathead Audubon Conservation Educator, and despite not being one of the Directors, I’m pretty excited at the prospect. My whole life work has been about nature education, through writing books, school residencies and assembly programs, a Montana TV show, and travel all over North America expressing my multiple personality “disorder” as Doc Wild (Critterman), Professor Avian Guano, Dr. Loonacy, The Lost Voyageur, and others. Now I get to more of the same in the place I love enough to call home, and with people I love just as much. And, I still get to go to board meetings and events!

I hope to continue to honor the Flathead Audubon tradition of doing a lot with a little. We will continue to do our time-tested field trips, Christmas Bird Counts, Hawk Watch and Birdathon, the Pileated Post, our snazzy new interactive website, managing the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area, and great monthly programs. And, we’ll continue to do the Conservation Educator-driven Birds of Prey Day, Backyard Bird Count, Road Scholar Intergenerational Program, schoolyard wildlife gardens, school and organization programs by request, Forestry Expo, FVCC Senior Institute Birding Class, Beauty of Birds class, the yearly nature events fundraising calendar, an old and young kids intergenerational program in Owen Sowerwine, signing out our great educational trunks to teachers, Whitefish Legacy Partners joint programs, and on and on.

After I get my footing (I had a full summer schedule before taking on the CE role.), I have some ideas to add as well, subject to board approval. One of those should be a bit of fun – I’ll give our monthly meetings a taste of our Education Program with a mini bird song quiz (with prizes!) and some natural history about one of the quiz birds. I’ll also offer another late summer teacher workshop on birds and conservation and we are also working on better ways to evaluate the successes of our conservation education efforts.

So, it looks like I’ll be tired, but very, very happy.