Open Letter from Audubon Florida Executive Director, Eric Draper


Open Letter from Audubon Florida Executive Director, Eric Draper

It was to say thank you not goodbye that led me to attend a celebration for longtime Sarasota Audubon President Jeanne Dubi recently. As speakers praised Jeanne’s accomplishments and love of birds, the setting itself drew my attention. Hundreds were gathered in a place that had been created for the purpose of bringing people together for conservation. The Audubon Nature Center at the Celery Fields is built on former farmland repurposed to clean up stormwater before it flows into Sarasota Bay and to provide some of the best birding in the region.

During the restoration a decade ago, local Audubon leaders noticed that the project covering hundreds of acres and surrounded by development was attracting lots of birds. One day, Jeanne declared her intention to build a nature center. There we were at the nature center she imagined and enlisted others to create.

Conservation happens that way. An idea turns into a dream then turns into reality. We need more of that. And we need more now, let me tell you why.

Florida, the nation, and the world face environmental challenges like never before. Just in the past month, there have been more reports on the lasting effects of climate change, the Gulf of Mexico has the largest dead zone ever, and shore and wading birds were set back with another tough nesting year. These are big examples, but I could fill this magazine with worrisome trends seen around Florida. At the same time, the Audubon family is stepping up like never before, and you’ll read about some ways our network is using the power of people for conservation in this edition.

My favorite part of being Audubon Florida’s executive director is attending local events. While I get satisfaction from passing laws and securing investments in environmental projects, my real thrill is seeing people working in their communities- giving time and energy to turn ideas into results.

That is the founding spirit of Audubon, and it is contagious. I invite you to renew your conservation commitment by attending the Audubon Assembly in October. This celebration of local leadership will help you reignite your passion for the rewarding work of encouraging others to be like Jeanne, turning our dreams to reality.       

See you at the Assembly,

Eric Draper

Executive Director, Audubon Florida 

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