2017 Audubon Assembly

Water for Florida's Future

Join us in St. Augustine for Florida’s premier conservation gathering, where grassroots leaders from around the state join Audubon’s professional staff and partners to grow their knowledge and skills to protect Florida’s precious natural resources.

  • Date: October 20-21, 2017
  • Location/Lodging: Renaissance St. Augustine Resort - Marriott, 500 South Legacy Trail, St. Augustine, FL 32092, 904-940-8000. Lodging is not available at the Renaissance St. Augustine Resort, and attendees may stay at the hotel of their choice. Several hotel chains are available at exit 318 off of I-95.
  • Registration: Sold out! Registration does not include lodging. Lodging must be booked separately. 
  • Program: Click here for the entire event program.
  • Field Trips: Click here to sign-up for a Friday morning field trip. 


Thursday, Oct. 19 Friday, Oct. 20 Saturday, Oct. 21
3 - 8 p.m. Registration 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. Registration 7 - 11:30 a.m. Registration
6 - 7 p.m. Early-bird Reception 8 - 11:30 a.m. Field Trips (Click here to sign up) 7 - 8:15 a.m. Networking Breakfast
  12 - 1:45 p.m. Welcome Luncheon 8:15 - 9:15 a.m. Chapters' Celebration
  2 - 3:30 p.m. Learning Sessions - Round 1 (Choice of: Water Policy Bootcamp, Landscaping for Water & Wildlife, and Changing Hearts & Minds: How to Effectively Influence Policymakers) 9:30 - 11 a.m. Making Hurricane Recovery a Win for Conservation and Water Resources 
  3:45 - 5:15 p.m. Learning Sessions - Round 2 (Choice of: Water Policy Bootcamp, Landscaping for Water & Wildlife, and Changing Hearts & Minds: How to Effectively Influence Policymakers) 11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Conservation Priority Setting Session and Closing Remarks
  6 - 7 p.m. Welcome Reception   1 p.m. Florida Audubon Society Annual Meeting
  7 - 9 p.m. Keynote Presentation and Awards Ceremony  
Bald Eagle Sponsors Roseate Spoonbill Sponsor Least Tern Sponsor Painted Bunting Sponsor Supporters

Darden Sustainability
Wells Fargo

Florida Power & Light Duke Energy Covanta
Holbrook Travel
Nestle Waters

Clearwater Audubon Society
Duval Audubon Society
Hastings Foundation
St. Johns County Audubon
Waste Management

Field Trips 2017

St. Augustine is known as a place where human and natural history intertwine. Historic forts and missions provide the backdrop for the Audubon Assembly's Friday morning birding field trips. Host chapters St. Johns County Audubon and Duval Audubon will provide the maps and guides. Trips are rated according to ease and length of walking, and some walking may be on the beach. All trips meet in the Conference Center Lobby 15 minutes before their departure time. Trip leaders will coordinate the carpools and provide directions. 

Assembly registrants may attend Friday morning's field trips for free! Space may be limited, so sign-up early for the field trip of your choice. Online sign-up closes Thursday, Oct. 19 at 9 a.m. ET. Assembly registrants may also sign-up when the Assembly registration desk opens Thursday, Oct. 19 at 3 p.m. ET. 

Trip #1 – Matanzas Inlet: 8:00 – 11:00 (35-minute drive each way)
Meet in Conference Center Lobby no later than 7:45
Rated: Moderate (walking in sand for approx. 1 mile)

Fort Matanzas National Monument and Matanzas Inlet are 14 miles south of St. Augustine in south St. Johns County. The inlet is a channel between barrier islands connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the south end of the Matanzas River. With shifting sands and changing tides, the inlet is a very dynamic place. Beach-nesting birds will have departed for their southern winter homes, but other visitors will have arrived. Parking just west of A1A gives access to a mile or so walk along the shore. Bonaparte’s Gulls dancing in the surf, Pelicans circling in formation, Skimmers rising and banking, and many more species are possibilities on this lovely beach walk. Scopes recommended. Leaders: Peggy Cook and Karen Tobi 

Trip #2 - The St Johns County Masters Tract Regional Stormwater Treatment Facility: 8:00-11:00 (35-minute drive each way)
(This field trip is full)
Meet in Conference Center Lobby no later than 7:45
Rated: Easy

To reduce high nutrient levels, specifically Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P) in the Lower St Johns River Basin and Deep Creek the county has designed and built a system of wetlands to drain and filter stormwater runoff from agricultural and residential areas. Situated near Deep Creek Conservation Area, St Johns County staff manage water levels in the wetland cells to mimic the natural wet and dry seasons. Sandhill Cranes, numerous waders, migrating warblers, and raptors are all on the list at this very special location. This field trip fits perfectly within the theme of this year’s Assembly. Scopes recommended.
Leaders: Chris Hooker and Jean Rolke

Trip #3 - Durbin-Julington: 8:30 – 11:00 (25-minute drive each way)
Meet in Conference Center Lobby no later than 8:15
Rated: Easy

The Julington-Durbin Preserve is a 2,031-acre nature preserve managed by the City of Jacksonville in Duval County.  The peninsula lies at the confluence of the Julington and Durbin Creeks and consists of sandhill, swamp, and marsh. The variety offers habitat to a variety of birds including raptors, wading birds, and migrant songbirds.
Leaders: Carol Bailey-White and Jody Willis

Trip #4 - Fort Mose: 8:30 – 11:00 (25-minute drive each way)
Meet in Conference Center Lobby no later than 8:15
Rated: Easy and Wheelchair Accessible

Fort Mose Historic State Park is a U.S. National Historic Landmark, located two miles north of St. Augustine on the edge of a salt marsh and the western side of the waterway separating the mainland from the coastal barrier islands. It was the first legally sanctioned community of freed slaves in what is now the United States and boasts a wide range of bird species. Fort Mose’s open spaces and two wheelchair accessible boardwalks provide ideal viewing opportunities for coastal shorebirds and resident and migrating birds of prey. Scopes recommended.
Leaders: Sue Killeen, Diana Ewing, and Cindy Rogero

Exploring on your own. Attendees are encouraged to explore the Northeast Florida area before and after the Assembly. We will have recommendations at registration on places to stroll nearby. Where there are green spaces, you are bound to find birds. 

Note: Click here to sign up for field trips! For questions, contact Jacqui Sulek at jsulek@audubon.org.

Welcome Luncheon 

Friday, 12 - 1:45 p.m.

Join old friends and make new ones from around the state as we convene at lunch to kick off this year’s exciting Audubon Assembly. Audubon Florida Executive Director Eric Draper will welcome participants with a celebration of the past year’s accomplishments and set the tone for what may be the most exciting Assembly yet! Lunch will close with remarks from a special guest.

Learning Sessions

Friday, 2 - 3:30 p.m. / Friday, 3:45 - 5:15 p.m.

Influencing Hearts and Minds: How to Persuade Decision-Makers Effectively

Audubon is known as America’s most effective conservation network. With 45 chapters across the state, the Audubon Chapter Network in Florida has the opportunity to effectively influence decision-makers at the local, state, and federal level to drive good conservation policies protecting crucial natural resources for wildlife and communities alike. The upcoming Florida legislative session and Hurricane Irma response efforts present an opportunity for increased coordination of our chapter network to improve conservation funding and safeguard Florida’s wildlife and special places. Join Audubon Florida team members and invited experts to learn how to get things done and help expand Audubon’s influence in 2018.

Moderator: Diana Ferguson, Attorney, Rutledge Ecenia 
Panelists: Representative Cyndi Stevenson, District 17, Florida House of Representatives; Jennifer Wilson, Associate, Adams and Reese; and Celeste De Palma, Everglades Policy Associate, Audubon Florida

Water Policy Bootcamp

Birds and wildlife depend on Florida's waters, and they depend on Audubon advocates like you to ensure they are protected for generations to come. Join us in this learning session as we discuss how you can help protect and restore waters in your community. Our experienced panel will present an overview of Florida's most significant water-management policies, advice on how to advocate effectively for Florida's waters, and examples of successful projects and programs created as a result of stakeholder and government collaboration.

Moderator: Heidi McCree, Audubon Florida Board of Directors and former Governing Board Member, Southwest Florida Water Management District
Panelists: Chris Farrell, Northeast Florida Policy Associate, Audubon Florida; Carolyn Ansay, Shareholder and Attorney, Torcivia, Donlon, Goddeau & Ansay, P.A. and former General Counsel, South Florida Water Management District; and Staci Grecco, Senior Planner, Alachua County

Landscaping for Water and Wildlife

Using less water in all aspects of our lives represents the most immediate and cost-effective opportunity to conserve water resources. Audubon’s Water for Florida’s Future program focuses on taking simple steps inside the home, outside the home, and in your community to save water. Nearly half of Florida’s water use goes toward watering yards, making native landscaping a key tool for water conservation. Join us to learn more the benefits of environmentally-friendly landscaping and other actions you can take to be a part of conserving Florida’s water.

Moderator: Joyce King, Founder and Conservation Chair, Santa Fe Audubon
Presenters: Laura VonMutius, Education Manager, Audubon Center for Birds of Prey; Tod Winston, Program Manager, Plants for Birds, National Audubon Society; Dr. Craig Huegel, Ecologist, Educator, Author and Native Plant Expert

Keynote Presentation and Award Ceremony

Friday, 7 - 9 p.m.

Join us for an evening celebration of Florida’s conservation champions for 2017 as well as an inspiring keynote on Florida’s liquid wealth, the Floridan Aquifer, by acclaimed conservation communicator Jennifer Adler.
Jenny will take our audience on a photographic exploration of Florida’s aquifer and springs, demonstrating their value and vulnerability, while helping us redouble our commitment to protecting this miracle hidden under our feet. Jennifer is a conservation photographer and National Geographic Explorer with a focus on freshwater conservation. A PhD student at the University of Florida, she has created an environmental education program called Walking on Water that immerses elementary school students in Florida’s springs, cameras in hand. She is a TEDx speaker and has exhibited her photography throughout Florida and at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Networking Breakfast and Chapters' Celebration 

Saturday, 7 - 8:15 a.m. (Networking Breakfast) / Saturday, 8:15 - 9:15 a.m. (Chapters' Celebration)

Audubon Chapter members are certainly early-risers. That’s why we will meet bright and early Saturday morning for a robust breakfast and networking hour to share ideas about issues facing chapters. We will then launch into our traditional Chapter awards celebration. Enjoy the appreciation of the heart and soul of the Audubon network and their successes in engaging with both traditional and new partners.

Special Session: Making Hurricane Recovery a Win for Conservation and Water Resources 

Saturday, 9:30 - 11 a.m.

Hurricane Irma taught us a lot about the resiliency of Florida’s environment in extreme weather conditions. Irma also demonstrated how natural systems buffer wind and storm surges, reduce flooding, and capture excess water--all providing measurable benefits to Floridians. As storm recovery measures advance, it is critical that federal, state, and local decision-makers understand that investing in habitat conservation, protecting and restoring wetlands, and restoring coastal habitats will improve resiliency and reduce future storm damage. How can discussions about storm recovery be framed in terms of strengthening Florida’s natural line of defense? What can Audubon and our allies do to ensure that storm recovery efforts provide a net conservation benefit?

If you have any questions about the Audubon Assembly, please call (850) 222-BIRD.

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