2021 Jay Watch Volunteer Appreciation Event

Celebration of a successful monitoring season!

The Jay Watch Appreciation event was extra special this year. After two seasons of online trainings and modified surveys, 60 enthusiastic volunteers gathered at Highlands Hammock State Park for a day of learning and celebration, hosted by Highlands Hammock State Park, Highlands County Audubon, and Audubon Florida.

Led by park staff, the day began early with a field trip to an area restored with the help of Jay Watch volunteers. The park’s Recreation Center provided a perfect meeting space, with plenty of room for masked social distancing.

The day-long event featured an overview of Audubon Jay Watch survey results combined with several educational presentations. Audrey DeRose-Wilson, Audubon Florida’s Director of Bird Conservation, gave an overview of current population trends at some of the larger sites. Educational presentations included results of field work by Alexis Cardas on the Impacts of Translocation on the Cooperatively Breeding Florida Scrub-Jay in Ocala National Forest, as well as a success story by Matt Vance, Lead Area Biologist for the FWC’s Lake Wales Ridge Wildlife and Environmental Area, entitled Burn It and They Will Come! Restoration Success at Carter Creek.

We celebrated the unveiling of the new Florida ScrubJay Audubon Adventures, the first single species example of the well-known National Audubon Society Adventures series. The three-page fold out is designed for grades 3-5, and the delightful centerfold illustration — by Apalachee Audubon member and illustrator extraordinaire Natasza Fontaine — and informative text appeals to all ages. This collaboration between Audubon Florida and National Audubon Society is the first of its kind and 15,000 copies will be distributed to parks and chapters around the state.

The day would not have been complete without the Jay Watch cake, a custom printed Jay Watch t-shirt (designed by Audrey), and a fabulous line-up of door prizes, including hand-painted Florida Scrub-Jay ornaments and a dozen bottles of Florida Scrub-Jay Lemon Wheat Ale courtesy of Playalinda Brewery, bottled specially for Audubon!

The day felt like a reunion, a coming together of folks with a shared passion and experience. It was clear that people left recharged and recommitted to Jay Watch as we continue to work towards a resilient future for this charismatic bird.

Article first appeared in the Jay Watch Report. Click here to read full report.

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