By Dr. Alan Keller, Board Director, Audubon Florida
On returning from a long international career to live in Naples, I quickly tired of leisure and wished to become actively involved in community service. Obviously, the Naples we returned to after my retirement had changed since my childhood there in the 1940s/50s. I fondly remembered the vast open spaces, wetlands, strands, sloughs, and tree islands all teeming with birds. But that's not what I returned to.
Thus, I decided I wanted to do my part to minimize the inheritance of environmental loss that my grandchildren will experience. The question was which organization best served my purposes. I wanted to work with people who:
- Seek to understand the interests of all parties,
- Incentivize good environmental behavior before punishing bad,
- Are committed to science-based policy, and
- Prefer political pragmatism and getting things done.
Audubon fit the bill, so I got involved.
After 14 years, I now have the perspective of serving on a local board - Audubon of the Western Everglades - and Audubon Florida’s board. I’ve watched both organizations grow in their effectiveness and influence. In addition to conservation impact, my goal has been to balance the interests of all levels of the Audubon family.
The rewards of service have been numerous. Our chapter has grown, and our influential policy staff give us a strong role in Southwest Florida environmental policy. I'm particularly proud of the progress we have made collaborating with Audubon Florida. The Audubon Florida board has listened respectfully to my pleas to not stray from science in our policy positions and has provided our chapter influence within Florida’s most influential conservation network.
For Audubon Florida to continue holding our title as the most effective conservation network, we must always work to improve relationships between the 45 Florida chapters and our state and national offices. And I heartily recommend engaging with Audubon for anyone hoping to leave a lasting legacy for their children and grandchildren.