VERMONT BREEDING BIRD ATLAS POSTING
The Conservation Biology Department at VINS, in partnership with the
Audubon Society of New Hampshire (ASNH), has organized this weekend's
Birders' Conference in Fairlee. We wish to respond briefly to two recent
e-mails posted on the VTBIRD listserv, one commenting on the conference,
the other on VINS in general.
The first e-mail suggested that we were overcharging for the conference, at
$75/person. Believe us, we would much rather charge less, as we firmly
believe in offering accessible birding and conservation information to all.
However, we have no designated funding source to cover conference costs,
and only a handful of partial sponsors. Neither VINS or ASNH has a prayer
of breaking even on this conference, and we sincerely hope this won't
prevent us from being able to hold similar events in the future. Organizing
a conference like this entails significant expense (e.g., facility rental,
food, keynote speaker fee, staff time), and it requires an enormous time
commitment. Despite our knowledge of the financial risks involved, we
proceeded because the VT and NH birding community wanted it, and because we
believe it will be a great way to connect birders in our region.
The second listserv posting, that "They've [VINS] gotten too big for their
breeches", is of greater concern to us, because we believe it confused
public perception of recent changes at VINS with our continuing,
high-quality, on-the-ground programs. Yes, we have a new state-of-the-art
raptor facility, and we are planning a new nature center. But this is only
the face of VINS, not its essence. Staff are working harder than ever to
maintain and enhance existing educational and research programs. We have
strengthened our commitment to serve the birding community through the
Breeding Bird Atlas, Vermont eBird, the weekly VT Rare Bird Alert, and this
conference. Our Conservation Biology program involves nearly 1000
volunteer "citizen scientists" in field research and monitoring projects,
providing benefits to both wildlife and people. On the outside, VINS may
appear to be changing, as we strive to adapt to challenging economic
times. However, our core mission hasn't strayed one bit: protecting
Vermont's natural heritage through education and research designed to
engage individuals in the active care of their environment. We're
confident in the integrity and sustainability of this mission, and we
invite all birders to become involved with VINS.
The upcoming Birders' Conference is intended to educate bird enthusiasts
about avian research and conservation in the Northeast, help them hone
their birding skills, and provide a venue for socializing with fellow
birders. We hope to see many of you there.