GGAS Launches New Strategic Plan
By Carol Baird
How often have you come across a bird and stood motionless to determine what it was doing— whether it was near its nest, what does it eat, or how many eggs are in that nest? You’re certainly not alone: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates there are some 48 million Americans who watch birds. And, if you enjoy watching birds, you doubtless are also reminded that you are a member of a species that poses a colossal threat to global avifauna.
In an effort to further protect bird life, face the challenges and opportunities for birds in this new millennium, expand our horizons, and deepen our outreach, the Golden Gate Audubon Board of Directors devoted a full year to reinvigorating our 100 plus year-old organization through strategic planning.
In January, 2019, we created a planning committee to lead this effort. That committee subsequently hired a consultant, who met frequently with the committee throughout the year. From March onward, the consultant also conferred with over 200 GGAS members who represented various parts of the organization.
For many of us on the Board, it was an eye-opening venture. At first, we prepared the traditional papers and entertained the usual ideas about the status of GGAS in the community. But we soon had to confront a truer reality: we are not at all reflective of the Bay Area and its diverse human populations, all of whom do interface with birds in one way or another.
We realized that it is vital that we “step out of our silos and start working with the community as a whole.”
What are some of our key takeaways from the planning process? First is proclaiming anew the importance of birds in our living landscape, and how birds play a pivotal role in ecosystem functioning.
And, of course, a second key point is the need to share the astounding diversity of our local avifauna with others and the need to learn the myriad ways local people already do celebrate our birds. Bay Area residents connect with birds in many ways that go beyond taking part in organized field trips or birding classes. Everyone involved in the planning exercises gained respect for other points of view, and for the realization that there are many ways to acknowledge our collective awe of the avian world.
As part of the plan, we’re committing to pay more attention to diversity, equity and inclusion, with the hope that our programs will become more welcoming and our community will increasingly reflect the racial, cultural, and economic diversity of the Bay Area.
On a more practical level, we wrestled with the various ways to invest our resources over the next four years. How will future GGAS budgets and time constraints balance the conflicting demands on us? How can we win better protection for local habitats? What are the most urgent steps we should take in the short run? How can we reach younger audiences? How can we advance member participation from wonder at birds to conservation activism?
The plan requires us to identify one or two strategic initiatives that will infuse all our existing, ongoing programs over the next three years. These could be a theme such as climate change, or a message such as “healthy bird populations mean healthy communities.” The plan does not call for drastic changes in any of our existing programs. Rather, we want to build on our current strengths and bring a more targeted, strategic perspective to our work.
As you read the summary, which of the strategic areas speaks to you most loudly and clearly—youth education, adult education, conservation advocacy, habitat restoration, communications, or community organizing? We encourage you to get involved… or if you’re already engaged, get more involved.
Please join with us to help save our local birdlife!
How to get involved:
Join a conservation committee in your area (San Francisco, East Bay, or Alameda). See https://goldengateaudubon.org/volunteer/.
Volunteer in habitat restoration: See https://goldengateaudubon.org/volunteer/ .
Help organize GGAS adult education programs such as field trips, classes, and our Travel with GGAS program. Contact Maureen Lahiff at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Help organize or volunteer at other GGAS events such as Birdathon and the Christmas Bird Count.
Volunteer in our Eco-Education program for youth: Contact Clay Anderson at email@example.com
COMMUNITY ORGANIZING & COMMUNICATIONS
Connect GGAS with community groups that could become allies/partners, particularly groups that would broaden and diversify our current base.
Connect GGAS with potential funders. (Does your employer have a charitable giving or matching grant program? Do you know individuals of means who care about wildlife and might be excited to learn about GGAS?) Contact Pam Young at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have ideas for funding.
Help spread the word about birds, conservation, and GGAS. Do you have ideas for social media campaigns, press outreach, or other ways to reach new communities? Contact Melissa Ramos at email@example.com.
Share your ideas! Email GGAS Board President Linda Carloni with your ideas for how to make GGAS a more effective advocate for birds at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carol Baird, a member of the GGAS Board of Directors, is chair of the Strategic Planning Committee.