Chapter Leader Models Success for Audubon Adventures

Audubon Adventures Classroom Kit Outdoor Shot

In 1991, Jackson Audubon Society (JAS) began an Audubon Adventures program for children grades 3-5 in local schools. JAS sponsors classrooms by providing Audubon Adventures kits for teachers.

Board member Harold Winters agreed to be the Chapter's education chairperson and spearhead the Audubon Adventures project. Harold is a retired biology, chemistry, physiology, and general science teacher who taught 38 years in Jackson Public Schools. The first year, Harold convinced three local elementary school teachers to accept subscriptions for their classrooms. As word spread about the useful publications, more teachers signed up.

It soon became apparent that JAS' budget could not support the growing demand for this popular publication. To bridge the gap, Harold began soliciting donations from local businesses and private individuals. Each year more classrooms signed up and Harold's task became greater.

In 2008, 138 classrooms in 20 local elementary schools participated, making JAS the second largest sponsor of Audubon Adventures in the United States. With a subscription cost of $45.65 per classroom, Harold had to raise nearly $6,300 to cover expenses.

Each year Harold visits the schools to re-enroll teachers who participated the previous year and to recruit new teachers who have replaced those who have retired. He also visits with each of his business sponsors and with private donors to keep them involved. He writes a personal thank you letter to each donor. He also writes an article in the Chapter newsletter each year to keep JAS members informed of the program.

This year Harold will celebrate his eightieth birthday and nineteen years as education chairperson for JAS. Raising funds to cover the cost of the program will be especially difficult this year due to Michigan's economy. Harold does not know how many more years he will be able to continue, and would like to mentor his replacement at some point. Finding someone else to fill his shoes may be a tall order, however.

Harold feels the need has never been greater. "Continuing this program is important because educating our youngsters is important. These kids will become the stewards of our natural world in the future," said Harold in an interview in January 2009.

FOR MORE INFO: To learn more about JAS Society or to become a local sponsor of "Audubon Adventures" in your community, visit www.audubon.org/educate/aa or contact Elaine O'Sullivan eosullivan@audubon.org.

Contributed by Tom Hodgson, Jackson Audubon Society
(Jackson County, MI)