Volunteers are perhaps the most important aspect of nonprofit organizations, the heart that keeps the blood flowing, the string that holds everything in place, the wheels that keep the bus moving. Here at the Audubon we have a solid cohort of volunteers ranging from elementary-aged students to senior citizens who offer their time to keep the Audubon running as the community educational landmark that it is today.
Upon my arrival to work on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, the volunteers are already gathering in the lobby, drinking coffee and usually munching on some sort of sweet treat, beginning preparations for the days and weeks ahead. I was so surprised at first at the dedication of this group of people who I see here day after day, week after week; they are committed to the Audubon's mission of connecting people to nature through educational experiences and to continue making that possible.
There are the eagle keepers who work to keep Liberty, the bald eagle, fed and taken care of; the maintenance guys who upkeep the trails and build whatever needs to be made or updated; the gardeners who are responsible for the beautiful flowers you see as you walk around the grounds; teens who come to help the counselors with day camp; ladies who help in the office, and the list could go on. Furthermore, it is not only the people who volunteer weekly who make the difference. Annual festivals and events could not happen without volunteer committees. Whether you have a few hours a week to help or a few hours a year, it helps significantly.
Men work on one of the Audubon’s new bridges.
In addition to the great group of volunteers the Audubon is home to, they also serve a great, generous community. A few weeks ago a 5-year-old girl, Avery Lampo of Frewsburg, came in to donate all of her birthday money to Liberty. After asking her family and friends for money in lieu of gifts of games and toys, she raised $75 that she wanted to donate. Her mom, Allison said they sat down and talked about area charities that they could support with her birthday funds, and Avery chose Liberty because she and her brother Madden love visiting her at the Audubon when they come to walk and explore the trails. In addition to visiting the Audubon, Avery likes to be outside and hike, boat and kayak with her family. She will be entering kindergarten this fall in Frewsburg.
Avery's donation, an impressive feat for someone her age, should not, and did not, go unrecognized. In return for her very generous donation, Avery became an honorary adoptee of Liberty. Animal adoptions are a program the center started to directly benefit all of the animals kept here. When you adopt an animal at Audubon, your donation goes directly toward animal care. You are helping buy food and other needed supplies for the in-house live animals. You are also helping accomplish our mission of connecting people to nature, since our animals are Audubon Ambassadors in programs and school visits. When you adopt an animal you have the choice of supporting Liberty the eagle; Lincoln or Milton, both box turtles; Rocky, a false-map turtle; Ebenezer, a wood turtle; along with a garter snake, a leopard or wood frog, a spotted or snapping turtle, and many more.
It is the generosity of people like Avery and her family, the endless hard work and devotion of the volunteers, and our dedicated sponsors that make the Audubon what it is today. It is not only the day-to-day work, but the festivals and events that are mainly volunteer and sponsor-run that would no longer be available without help from volunteers and donations from community members and local businesses. The Audubon is deeply grateful for the contributions of its members, volunteers and fellow local businesses. Without any of your help, events and programs would be in decline, but most importantly, we thank you for vowing to help us achieve awareness of our abundant natural surroundings in beautiful Western New York.