Announcing Our New Name
Dear Members and Friends,
Drumroll please ... after several months of research and discussion, the board of directors has voted unanimously to change our name to Lawrence Bird Alliance. We are excited to move forward with a new name that is clear, to the point, and welcoming to everyone in our community.
As we launch this next chapter in our 53-year history of enjoying and protecting birds, we need your financial support more than ever. Please, if you are able, become a member for as little as $10 a year, or make a larger donation to help us grow.
At our board retreat on June 8, the board voted unanimously to drop the name honoring John James Audubon, who has been revealed as a racist who enslaved people and robbed Native American graves. You can read more about the decision.
We chose Lawrence Bird Alliance for these reasons:
Lawrence is the principal city and most well-known name for our membership area, which includes all of Douglas County and a few surrounding communities.
Birds are at the center of what we do, in name as in purpose. We have found that many people do not recognize the Audubon name, so we chose a new name that states our interest more clearly.
Alliance signifies the collaboration of different groups in support of birds. It emphasizes the diversity of (and future increase in) our membership, but also represents our partnerships on initiatives with other like-minded organizations and our role within the national organization.
The “Bird Alliance” naming convention is gaining popularity among chapters that have decided to drop the Audubon name. So far, San Francisco, Madison, Chicago and Detroit have also chosen it. Many other chapters have voted to drop the Audubon name but have not yet announced their new names.
Lawrence Bird Alliance will continue to be affiliated with National Audubon. However, we receive very little funding from National Audubon and our programs depend entirely on local memberships, donations, and purchases at our bird seed sales. Please start or renew your annual membership.
You also can give a gift membership or make a donation in honor or in memory of a loved one by downloading the form from our website, or by making the donation online and sending us an email explaining its purpose. Please let us know if you prefer your donation to remain anonymous.
As a member, you will receive by mail a copy of our annual Birding magazine with a list of 2024 programs and field trips, plus articles that will help you learn more about our local birds. You also will get a 10 percent discount on feeders and books at our seed sales. The next one is Saturday, Dec. 9.
We need volunteers
We always welcome volunteers to help with our many activities. Right now, we have particular needs. Please let us know if you can help with any of these positions by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Board member at large. We have one opening for a board member, whose duties include attending a monthly board meeting on Zoom and volunteering to help with events and tasks as they arise.
Conservation Chair. This is a research and policy position. The chair will keep the board informed about local and state matters that could affect birds and their habitats and help us formulate policies.
Social events coordinator. We hope to add several casual events to bring members together for fun and networking. An example would be coffee and donuts after a field trip (see our Lone Star Lake trip on Nov. 18). The coordinator would be responsible for choosing dates, organizing food, and overseeing the events.
Attorney and CPA. Changing the name of our organization will entail legal and financial filings. We need a few hours of advice from professionals experienced with nonprofits.
Please join us!
The board of directors is energized by our decision to move forward as the Lawrence Bird Alliance, and we hope you will be, too. Please spread the word! And join us in our many activities — we have more than 30 field trips and 9 educational presentations scheduled for 2024, plus activities at many community events.
The Board of Directors
Lawrence Bird Alliance
Debbie Baker, Kelly Barth, Roger Boyd, Jim Bresnahan, Lynn Byczynski, Pam Chaffee, Lowen Millspaugh, Joseph Rogers, Kim Sain, Sandy Sanders, Sam Stopple
Dropping the Name Audubon
June 30, 2023
Dear Members and Friends,
The board of directors of Jayhawk Audubon Society has voted to change the name of our chapter to better reflect our values as an inclusive and welcoming group dedicated to birds and the habitats on which they depend. A process to choose a new name is underway and we will invite participation from our members and the wider community.
At our board retreat on June 8, the board voted unanimously to drop the name honoring John James Audubon, who has been revealed as a racist who enslaved people and robbed Native American graves.
Beginning in 2020, National Audubon Society published several articles about Audubon the enslaver and anti-abolitionist. In 2022, the national organization undertook a year-long process of surveying members about whether to drop the name Audubon. In March 2023, the National Audubon board voted to retain the name.
We at Jayhawk Audubon were surprised and disappointed by National Audubon’s decision and we hope it will be revisited in the future. For our chapter, based in a city that was founded by abolitionists and which is home to Haskell Indian Nations University, keeping Audubon as our namesake is unacceptable. Our organization will be better served going forward with a name that does not present an obstacle to anyone in our community. We welcome everyone with an interest in birds and nature.
When announcing its decision to retain the Audubon name, National Audubon said that local chapters are free to change their names and still remain part of the nationwide network, which includes more than 450 local chapters. At least six large chapters have already voted to change their names, as has the union that represents Audubon staff members.
We want to emphasize that our action is not a criticism of those who founded Jayhawk Audubon Society in 1970. We understand why our chapter initially chose to adopt the name of the national organization. However, recent national commentary and discussions about John James Audubon's life accompanied by facts derived from historical documents and scholarly research resulted in the need to revisit our chapter's name and our reasons for keeping it.
We encourage everyone to become familiar with the issues that led the board to take this name-change decision. You can find the background here:
In addition, we have created an FAQ page about the name change, which we hope will answer any additional questions you might have.
We are excited to embark on the process of changing our name, which is sure to begin the next chapter of our organization. A name change committee will meet this summer to decide the process for choosing a new name and we will be in touch again soon to solicit your input. In the meantime, all the important work of the organization continues—remember that all of our activities are always free and open to everyone, so please join us for field trips and educational programs.
Thank you, and happy birding!
The 2023 and 2024 members of the board:
Debbie Baker, Kelly Barth, Roger Boyd, Jim Bresnahan, Lynn Byczynski, Vanessa Carlos, Pam Chaffee, Kristine Latta, Lowen Millspaugh, Betty Lou Peckham, Joseph Rogers, Kim Sain, Sandy Sanders, Kaitlin Stanley, Samantha Stopple