For volunteers who give generously of their time, energy and creativity, recognition is the critically important element that keeps them coming back time and again. Healthy Chapters build recognition into the year’s program activities and find many means, both large and small, of recognizing the work of volunteers within the Chapters.
Opportunities for recognizing a job well done are everywhere. The key is that every Chapter leader needs to understand the importance of recognition and always be alert for opportunities to reward and recognize Chapter activism. A timely phone call, a few kind words at your monthly meeting and a friendly note of thanks are simple and easy ways of saying thanks that will bring untold benefits to your Chapter.
Audubon Chapter Award Program Summary
National Audubon Society offers several awards available to Chapters for recognizing special individuals, organizations and/or businesses who aid in the accomplishment of Audubon’s goals and support local Chapter efforts. These include the Meritorious Service Award, the Great Egret Award and the Presidential Recognition Award. In addition, the Callison Award recognizes Audubon leaders on a National level. Read more about each award by browsing the links below.
Recognizing Volunteers within the Chapter
Recognition can happen at every level of Chapter activity. Whether it is just a friendly phone call or an impromptu humorous salute at your monthly program meeting, or a formal awards banquet, every form of recognition is valuable. But recognition will not just happen unless Chapter leaders think about it, are committed to it, and incorporate it into their plans for the year. Volunteer recognition – like field trips, Chapter fundraising, membership recruitment and conservation activism programs – is best accomplished when it is incorporated into annual planning process.
Recognition should be built into annual planning in each program area and anticipated in long-range Chapter planning. Your board might want to create a small committee to plan for recognition throughout the year, or it might want to have an ad hoc committee made up of officers and committee chairs that plans for recognition within the Chapter’s various activities. Regardless of how each Chapter incorporates recognition into its programs, be sure to appropriate adequate funds for it in the budget.
While many Chapters have developed on-going awards programs, there is a tendency for the emphasis on recognition to ebb and flow. Certain awards may fall by the wayside when presidents come and go. This is why it is important for all Chapter leaders to take responsibility for recognition within the Chapter and to be sure it is a part of every annual planning process. Following are some suggestions for developing and maintaining Chapter recognition programs:
- Appoint someone from each standing committee to supervise recognition efforts for that committee. This person should consider all the various tasks and responsibilities carried out by committee members and ways to recognize them.
- Consider how and when to present both simple and larger awards – at annual banquets and monthly Chapter meetings, through a recognition column in the Chapter newsletter, or some combination of the above. Keep in mind that recognition should be timely, consistent and fair.
- Consider the Meritorious Service Award in your Chapter’s recognition plans. The purpose of the Meritorious Service Award is to publicly acknowledge and thank outstanding
- Chapter activists. Candidates must be member of the Chapter and Audubon and have sustained a level of activity beyond that of the average Chapter member. The certificate is usually presented by the Chapter president, and certificates can be obtained from the Chapter services office.
- Have an annual awards party or banquet. If appropriate, alert the media and advertise the event throughout the community.
- Recognize outstanding service with scholarships to Audubon conferences and conventions, Audubon Camps, “Boot Camp” lobby weeks in Washington, D.C., and other training and educational opportunities.
- Institute a “volunteer of the month” plan. You might post pictures of outstanding volunteers on a bulletin board at the Chapter meeting place.
- Award plaques or framed certificates for outstanding achievement in specific areas such as membership recruitment, fundraising, and conservation advocacy.
The possibilities for recognition of volunteers are limitless. Whatever your approach, remember that recognition will encourage members to volunteer again. Recognition also has a ripple effect. When other volunteers participate in publicly acknowledging their peers, they will be in encouraged to become more actively involved as well.
Recognition Beyond the Chapter
One of the best ways for a Chapter to gain visibility in the community is to develop a system of awards for outstanding environmental achievement by community leaders, organizations and businesses. Acknowledging the work of public officials, business people, reporters, and parks and recreation personnel not only further encourages their good works but also promotes Audubon’s name in the community. Following are some ideas for providing recognition for environmental work within your community. If your Chapter is a tax exempt 501(c)3 organization, in order to avoid the appearance of endorsing the election of a public official, it is best to give awards to elected officials in non-election years.
- Chapters can encourage expanded environmental reporting in newspapers, radio and television by providing recognition for reporters, editorial writers, and publishers who generate outstanding coverage of environmental issues and advance the Audubon mission in the media. Acknowledging these works will go a long way in developing good media relations with reporters and local radio and television producers.
- Recognize teachers who are doing an outstanding job of carrying Audubon adventures into the classroom. When planning an annual event, consider displaying children’s artwork at the event site, or invite teachers and children to make a presentation to the Chapter. Acknowledge their work with Audubon Adventures and other environmental education programs by offering Audubon Camp scholarships. Chapters that send a teacher to camp should invite him or her to give a presentation about the camp, thereby promoting the camps program to the membership.
- Give community leaders an Audubon membership with a subscription to Audubon magazine. This will keep them informed of important national environmental issues, win friends for your Chapter, and create a lifetime Auduboner.
- Audubon Month is filled with opportunities for community activities, many of which lend themselves to recognizing public officials. Encourage the state governor or public official to proclaim April as Audubon Month. Working with their staff, you may be asked to write a resolution and arrange for a press conference with the official and your Chapter members. Then follow-up by presenting an award to the official during Audubon Month festivities.
Recognition of Chapters in Audubon Publications
Audubon’s many publications reach every level and division of the organization and therefore, are natural places to recognize the special accomplishments of Chapters. Audubon’s national, bimonthly publication, Audubon magazine, reports on noteworthy Chapter programs and achievements. The quarterly Chapter Networker and the monthly Audubon Newswire feature newsworthy Chapter accomplishments. In addition, Chapter Services features Chapter conservation programs and leaders on the website.