Elevate

 

The Campaign for Audubon

Rising together to meet the challenges facing our birds and planet.

Prepare for Liftoff

Elevate is the largest fundraising initiative in history focused on protecting birds and the places they need. This comprehensive, $750 million campaign fuels our efforts to advance bird-friendly policies, safeguard places vital to birds, and engage people—including many who are new to Audubon—in support of our mission.

 

What are we working to achieve? Cleaner water in the Great Lakes, healthier forests across the northeast and Canada, more resilient coasts along the Gulf of Mexico, and protected nesting and stopover habitats from Alaska and the Great Plains to Colombia and the Andes Mountains. A bipartisan network of Audubon advocates speaking with a shared purpose in D.C. and engaging elected officials where they live. A conservation movement championed by leaders who bring new perspectives to the table. Cities and neighborhoods that welcome wildlife while providing green spaces and access to nature for people.

 

Elevate is also about this pivotal moment in time and the actions we must take to ensure a sustainable future. The impacts of climate change and habitat loss are growing more severe each year, resulting in dramatic species declines. Our on-the-ground conservation efforts are poised to expand significantly; our movement needs to engage and lift up new voices and communities. We must increase our investment in these essential, exciting efforts if we are to preserve the birds and landscapes we cherish.

 

The stakes have never been higher—but we’re not afraid of heights.

 

Elevate takes flight

Over the past few years, generous supporters have helped lay a sound foundation upon which we continue to build. Because our campaign is comprehensive, all gifts to Audubon are counted toward our campaign goal. The stories below represent just a few of the ways that Elevate’s impact is already being felt at Audubon and throughout the western hemisphere.

 

Everglades Restoration

Clearing the Way

In 2021, Publix committed to donate more than $1 million to Audubon Florida to restore approximately 500 acres of wetlands at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the western Florida Everglades. The project will remove encroaching willows and other plants that disrupt this vulnerable watershed and displace native species. When the project is complete, an estimated 110 million gallons of water per year will be returned to the ecosystem.

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Dangermond Fellows

Charting the Future

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are increasingly vital to modern conservation—from analyzing critical places for birds to arming advocates with maps and apps to change policy. In 2016, Jack and Laura Dangermond, the founders of the GIS company Esri, created the Dangermond Fellowship program at Audubon. They hoped to engage young people who would advance the next generation of leadership in conservation GIS.

Read more
 

Lights Out

Fly By Night

The majority of North American migratory birds conduct their migratory flights at night. As they pass by metropolitan areas, artificial lights and skyglow can confuse and disorient them, leading to potentially fatal collisions with buildings and windows. To prevent these incidents, Audubon’s Lights Out program encourages individuals, businesses, and municipalities to reduce artificial lighting during migration season.

Read more
 

Osteen Bequest

A Lasting Legacy

A native Californian, James Osteen was a modest man who studied zoology, traveled widely, and loved photography. James passed away in 2019; his estate included a $35 million bequest to the National Audubon Society—the largest individual donation ever received by the organization.

Read more
 

Rowe Sanctuary

A Sight To Behold

Each year, approximately 80 percent of all the Sandhill Cranes in North America visit a 75-mile stretch of the Platte River as part of their long migration. The sight is magnificent to behold: A raucous gale of flight, feathers, and bird calls as hundreds of thousands of these animals gather along and atop the waterway.

Read more
 

Audubon NEST at Riverlands

Nest Egg

Opened in 2011, the Audubon Center at Riverlands is located in the 3,700-acre Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary on the banks of the Mississippi River near its confluence with the Missouri River north of St. Louis, Missouri. In addition to protecting this critical bird habitat, one of the flagship programs at the Center is Nature Education for Stewards of Tomorrow (NEST).

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Conserva Aves

Here, There, and Everywhere

Many of the species that Audubon works to protect spend a significant portion of the year outside the United States. To truly protect migratory birds throughout their lifecycles, Audubon is growing our international presence and engagement. We’re working with local governments, NGOs, and partner organizations throughout Latin America to steward important bird habitats across the hemisphere—from Canada to Chile.

Read more
 

Great Meadows Marsh

It Takes a Village

Great Meadows Marsh in Stratford, Connecticut, contains the largest stretch of unditched salt marsh in the state and serves as critical habitat for birds like the Snowy Owl and Saltmarsh Sparrow, as well as dozens of other animals.

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Great Meadows Marsh

Photo Caption
Construction teams are hard at work dredging soil, excavating new waterways, and restoring habitat at Connecticut’s Great Meadows Marsh.
Photo Credits
Luke Franke/Audubon
It Takes a Village

Great Meadows Marsh in Stratford, Connecticut, contains the largest stretch of unditched salt marsh in the state and serves as critical habitat for birds like the Snowy Owl and Saltmarsh Sparrow, as well as dozens of other animals. As part of Elevate, Audubon and our partners at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have been fundraising to restore more than 33 acres of this precious marshland, a unit of Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.

Since the project was announced in 2019, we have raised an additional $3.3 million—creating a total investment of $4.1 million in Connecticut’s coastline. Thanks to support from the USFWS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The Nature Conservancy, the Robert F. Schumann Foundation, and the Jeniam Foundation, we were able to officially break ground on the project in 2021.

The project will reestablish native marsh vegetation, expand bird habitat, improve community access, and serve as a testing ground for new conservation techniques. “We will create small mounds of earth and plant them with salt marsh grasses, creating higher elevation areas for Saltmarsh Sparrows to nest in,” says Corrie Folsom-O’Keefe, director of conservation for Audubon Connecticut. “If effective, this strategy could be expanded to other marshes across Connecticut and beyond,” she explains.

“The planned restoration of over 33 acres of salt marsh and other coastal habitats in Great Marsh Meadows will have a tremendous beneficial impact for a wide variety of unique species of wildlife and continue Stratford’s tradition of focusing on the ecology of our region.”

– Stratford Mayor Laura Hoydick

 




Osteen Bequest

Photo Caption
A Pileated Woodpecker feeds the next generation.
Photo Credits
Sylvia Hunt/Audubon Photography Awards
A Lasting Legacy

A native Californian, James Osteen was a modest man who studied zoology, traveled widely, and loved photography. James passed away in 2019; his estate included a $35 million bequest to the National Audubon Society—the largest individual donation ever received by the organization.

This transformative gift could not have come at a better time. James’s unrestricted bequest allowed Audubon to weather the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through his generosity, we were able to reduce cuts to key programs, retain dedicated field-based staff, and accelerate our return to full operating levels across multiple areas.

According to Jamaal Nelson, Audubon’s chief equity, diversity, and inclusion officer, “The impact of James Osteen’s exceptional generosity was monumental in several ways. The unrestricted nature of the gift has enabled Audubon to strengthen its investment in equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging, and other key operational areas, despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. His willingness to devote a significant portion of his estate to Audubon through a planned gift also created a lasting legacy that benefits us now and helps lay the groundwork for a more equitable and inclusive future.”




Dangermond Fellows

Photo Caption
Ari Kim (right) and her partner are experienced travelers, bird watchers, and hikers.
Photo Credits
Courtesy Ariana Kim
Charting the Future

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are increasingly vital to modern conservation—from analyzing critical places for birds to arming advocates with maps and apps to change policy. In 2016, Jack and Laura Dangermond, the founders of the GIS company Esri, created the Dangermond Fellowship program at Audubon. They hoped to engage young people who would advance the next generation of leadership in conservation GIS.

Current fellow Ari Kim is doing exactly that. For example, as part of one of her projects, Ari is mapping the coast of South Carolina to indicate where Important Bird Areas (IBAs) overlap with beaches that allow dogs. Just the sight of a dog can be enough to scare off a nesting bird, leaving its eggs and hatchlings unprotected in the summer sun.

“We can show map overlays of IBAs and places with existing restrictions and use that data to help inform local policies about whether or not dogs should be allowed in certain areas,” Ari explains. “Data can be intimidating. It’s my job as an analyst to create a report that’s digestible—and seeing the information presented visually is so much more powerful for decisionmakers than looking at a spreadsheet.”

“As we continue advancing and leveraging GIS, and as we keep bringing in new generations of technology as well as new generations of people, my sense is we’re going to achieve extraordinary things.”

– Jack Dangermond, owner and president of Esri

 




Everglades Restoration

Photo Caption
These spectacular Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are among the many species that rely on the habitat around Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. The marsh where this photo was taken is still under restoration.
Photo Credits
David Korte
Clearing the Way

“Green isn’t just our color. It’s our commitment.”

– Publix Super Markets

In 2021, Publix committed to donate more than $1 million to Audubon Florida to restore approximately 500 acres of wetlands at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the western Florida Everglades. The project will remove encroaching willows and other plants that disrupt this vulnerable watershed and displace native species. When the project is complete, an estimated 110 million gallons of water per year will be returned to the ecosystem.

“The Publix mission encourages us to be responsible citizens in our communities. Part of that mission is to meet today’s needs while being mindful of what’s essential for tomorrow,” explains Publix Director of Environmental and Sustainability Programs Michael Hewett. “Publix is committed to helping protect, conserve, and restore the Everglades, as well as other water resources in our operating area—and we’re proud to support Audubon’s efforts.”




Lights Out

Photo Caption
Downtown Philadelphia is saving birds—and electricity—by turning off unnecessary nighttime lighting.
Photo Credits
Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Fly By Night

The majority of North American migratory birds conduct their migratory flights at night. As they pass by metropolitan areas, artificial lights and skyglow can confuse and disorient them, leading to potentially fatal collisions with buildings and windows. To prevent these incidents, Audubon’s Lights Out program encourages individuals, businesses, and municipalities to reduce artificial lighting during migration season.

On October 2, 2020, a confluence of weather and migration patterns caused one of the largest mass collision events in Philadelphia’s history. In response, Audubon helped create Bird Safe Philly, a partnership with the Valley Forge Audubon Society and the Wyncote Audubon Society, as well as partners at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club.

In 2021, scores of buildings voluntarily turned off their lights during periods of peak migration in the spring and autumn. In doing so, they are joining a growing community of owners, property managers, and municipalities who have adopted Lights Out, including Houston, Chicago, New York City, and Atlanta.

“By participating in Bird Safe Philly’s Lights Out program, Philadelphia will not only help protect these birds by reducing nocturnal lighting, but also by further reducing energy consumption, which can slow climate change.”

– Keith Russell, program manager for urban conservation with Audubon Mid-Atlantic




Audubon NEST at Riverlands

Photo Caption
Campers Lanora Stevens, Mariah Selvey, and Skylar Maysfrom from Ferguson-Florissant School District learn how to navigate the 99-acre Little Creek Nature Area through mapping, which also improves problem-solving, team-building, and literacy skills.
Photo Credits
Emily Pavlovic
Nest Egg

Opened in 2011, the Audubon Center at Riverlands is located in the 3,700-acre Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary on the banks of the Mississippi River near its confluence with the Missouri River just north of St. Louis, Missouri. In addition to protecting this critical bird habitat, one of the flagship programs at the Center is Nature Education for Stewards of Tomorrow (NEST), which provides experiential STEM-based learning in nature for participants in grades K-12. Every year, Riverlands offers NEST for free to hundreds of students, many from underserved communities.

In celebration of the Center’s 10th anniversary—and in recognition of our exceptional work engaging local community members—dedicated supporter Dianna Adorjan donated $100,000 to grow the NEST program. We used that donation to create a matching challenge for new donations at the $10,000 level, further magnifying the impact of her generosity.

“NEST reflects the best of Audubon,” says Center Director Ken Buchholz. “Through the unifying power of birds, we engage people of all backgrounds to learn about nature, to appreciate its beauty and complexity, and to care for it for generations to come.”




Conserva Aves

Photo Caption
Participants, and soon-to-be potential birding guides, learn the ins and outs of guiding bird tours at Reserva Natural La Planada, a nature reserve in Nariño, Colombia.
Photo Credits
Luke Franke/Audubon
Here, There, and Everywhere

Many of the species that Audubon works to protect spend a significant portion of the year outside the United States. To truly protect migratory birds throughout their lifecycles, Audubon is growing our international presence and engagement. We’re working with local governments, NGOs, and partner organizations throughout Latin America to steward important bird habitats across the hemisphere—from Canada to Chile.

In 2021, BirdLife International, Audubon, American Bird Conservancy, and RedLAC members received $12 million from the Bezos Earth Fund for the Conserva Aves (“Conserve Birds”) initiative. This innovative collaboration aims to help nations meet their international climate and biodiversity pledges and close the gap in the protection of key biodiversity areas. “This partnership gathers the power of Latin American organizations to focus on transformational conservation that benefits people and biodiversity,” says Aurelio Ramos, senior vice president for Audubon Americas. “It's our answer to what birds so beautifully and wisely have been telling us we must do for decades.”

Specifically, the $12 million grant will support local communities and Indigenous peoples to establish and strengthen 30-40 new protected sites critical for threatened and migratory bird species by 2027. This will dramatically enhance the hemispheric network of nesting grounds and stopover sites that support these majestic creatures in their annual odysseys.




Rowe Sanctuary

Photo Caption
Hundreds of thousands of Sandhill Cranes visit the Iain Nicolson Audubon Sanctuary each year during one of the world’s most impressive and celebrated migration events.
Photo Credits
Mark Washburn
A Sight to Behold

Each year, approximately 80 percent of all the Sandhill Cranes in North America visit a 75-mile stretch of the Platte River as part of their long migration. The sight is magnificent to behold: A raucous gale of flight, feathers, and bird calls as hundreds of thousands of these animals gather along and atop the waterway. For Naseem Munshi and Mike Tupper, traveling to the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary to view this spectacle is an annual tradition of their own.

Historically, snowmelt and heavy rains would flood the Platte River, widening its banks and washing away vegetation on the sandbars, creating ideal shallows for these birds to visit during their migratory journey along the central flyway. Now, with dams controlling water flow and so much water diverted away from the river, Audubon must intervene. “What Mother Nature used to do is now accomplished by Director Bill Taddicken and John Deere,” Mike says.

As part of the Elevate campaign, Naseem and Mike stepped up their giving, both because they believe in supporting causes that are personally meaningful and because they understand the critical role that Audubon plays in ensuring future generations will still have the chance to witness the wonder of the Sandhill Crane migration. “The cranes talk to us—in our hearts,” Naseem explains. “They speak to me in a way that nothing else speaks to me.”

“Naseem and Mike have not only provided critical financial support through their Elevate gift, but have also been amazing volunteers helping with all needs—from guiding tours and preparing viewing blinds to sharing their passion for this work with visitors. We’re so grateful for their leadership.”

– Bill Taddicken, director of Rowe Sanctuary



Campaign Council of Co-Chairs

Susan Bell

Mary Daugherty

George Golumbeski

Kate James

Sally Jeffords

Richard Lawrence

Susan Orr

Anne Parrish

Anna Riggs

Kathy Sullivan

Phil Swan

Maggie Walker

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