Audubon 2023 Awards for Outstanding Partners, Mentors, and Chapter Leaders

The awards were presented at the 2023 Audubon Leadership Conference in Estes Park, Colorado.

Every two years at the Audubon convention or leadership conference, Audubon celebrates excellence among its partners and its community and campus chapter leaders. In November 2023, Interim Vice President for Network Kim Brand, Chief Conservation Officer Marshall Johnson, Program Manager for Audubon on Campus Gustavo Figueroa, and Senior Vice President for Audubon Americas Aurelio Ramos, presented the following awards to celebrate all of the amazing work being done on behalf of birds and people.

Dare to Soar! Award

The “Dare to Soar! - Outstanding Achievement in Leadership” award recognizes an Audubon on Campus student leader who portrays both strong leadership characteristics and passion towards bird conservation. They serve as a role model for their fellow campus chapter members by volunteering and participating in campus chapter led events, promote their campus chapter across their campus community, and portraying an overall positive attitude.

The recipients of this award are student leaders who have shown great leadership skills in their campus chapter and also served in an advisory role to the Audubon on Campus Program. 

The 2023 Dare to Soar! Award goes to:

Samantha Hughes, San Diego City College Campus Chapter  (CA)

Samantha co-led the execution of the campus chapter’s environmental justice summit and proposed the theme of climate trauma. She also works the strengthen her group’s connection with the Kumeyaay tribe.

Madeline Cowen, Bruin Birding Club, University of California at Los Angeles (CA)

Madeline remained an active leader even during the pandemic, using the time to re-examine the group’s vision and to adjust offerings while in-person events were curtailed. In June, she helped organize the campus chapter’s first bird-themed LGBTQ+ Pride Festival to celebrate, build community, and boost the relationship of LGBTQ+ people and their allies with birds and the outdoors.

Kaitlyn Ines, University of Nevada, Las Vegas Campus Chapter (NV)

Kaitlyn has been a stalwart in maintaining the campus chapter’s native plant garden maintained, including helping to organize in partnership with Audubon staff a weekend-long workshop on native plants.

Mary Rudolph, Tiger Audubon, Colorado College (CO)

Mary is a founder of the Colorado College campus chapter. The group’s activities cover everything from window collision monitoring to trips to Nebraska to witness the Sandhill Crane migration. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, in January took part in the Christmas Bird Count. Beyond her campus chapter, she has been a vocal advocate for Audubon on Campus, serving on its student advisory committee and pushing for its Community Town Halls.

Michael Kerrigan, Midlands Bird Society, University of South Carolina (SC)

Michael played an important role as a participating in the 2022 Fly-In advocacy activities on Capitol Hill, visiting many legislative offices to speak up for seabirds. He is playing an active role recruiting for the 2023 Fly-in, taking time to connect with potential student participants to answer questions and address any concerns.

The Raven Award

The “Raven Award - Mentor of the Year” award recognizes a faculty or staff member currently serving as an advisor to a campus chapter or Audubon ambassador. The advisor nominee is someone who has been a visible and integral part to the success of the campus chapter or Audubon ambassador by providing continuous support and contributing to the growth and development of campus chapter or Audubon ambassador.

The 2023 Raven Award goes to:

  • Lisa Chaddock, San Diego City College Campus Chapter (California)
  • Jaime L. Baxter-Slye, University of North Texas Bird Campus Committee (Texas)
Charles H. Callison Volunteer Award

Audubon’s Callison Award annually recognizes volunteers, nominated by their peers, who have made remarkable contributions to conservation through coalition-building, creative thinking and perseverance.

The 2023 Callison Volunteer Award goes to:

Stephen Kintner, West Volusia Audubon Society (FL)

Stephen led West Volusia Audubon to participate in the 6-month pilot FLEDJE (Future Leaders for Equity, Diversity and Justice in the Environment) program which culminated in a project designed to meet the needs of one of the priority communities in Volusia County. He has also been a key partner in Audubon Florida’s Jay Watch program to monitor and conserve the threatened Florida Scrub Jay, established a vegetable and native plant nursery at the Lyonia Environmental Center to donate plants and food to the local community, and helped establish two native plants paid internships at local colleges, one of which subsequently founded an Audubon on Campus chapter. In all, his professional background and expertise may provide the foundation but his creativity and generosity make the magic happen. 

William Dutcher Award

The William Dutcher Award recognizes outstanding Audubon volunteers who exemplify the standard of service to Audubon established by William Dutcher, the first chairman of the National Association of Audubon Societies when it was formed in 1905. William Dutcher oversaw Audubon's growth from a loose-knit federation to a powerful society. Recognizing the need for effective local organizations, he helped to create some of the early Audubon chapters.

The William Dutcher Award is presented to Audubon community chapter leaders who work creatively and intensively on one or more focus areas or projects to advance Audubon’s mission. These honorees demonstrate volunteer impact at community, state, regional, national, and even hemispheric levels. They are community builders who involve others in conservation work by collaborating with tribal communities, campus communities, state parks, and with other chapters in their state. They connect with other NGOs like Boys & Girls Clubs, Birdability, and Feminist Bird Club, and support initiatives like Black Birders Week. They lead and develop innovative, sustainable programs that address one or more of Audubon’s conservation priorities.

The 2023 Willian Dutcher Award goes to:

Larry Schwitters, Pilchuck Audubon Society (WA) 

Larry Schwitters coordinates the monitoring of Vaux’s Swift roosts across the Pacific Flyway, an effort known as “Vaux’s Happening”. Larry is an active facilitator in connecting the right people. He connects Audubon chapters, agencies, and nonprofits, and even international partners. That kind of coordination is impressive, and he continues to do it year in and year out. Larry continues to make major contributions to our understanding of Vaux’s Swift population and migration pathway.

Elaine Stachera Simon, Mesilla Valley Audubon Society (NM) 

Elaine’s leadership has grown the Chapter’s impact dramatically and has strengthened relationships within and outside of Audubon from Arizona to Texas. Programs spearheaded by Elaine include the revival of the Chapter’s scholarship for New Mexico State University students. Her enthusiasm and continued engagement with local universities has led to a marked increase in the participation of young people in Mesilla Valley Audubon activities – multiple students now sit on the Chapter’s Conservation Committee, and one has joined the Board and is here at the Audubon Leadership Conference! Elaine also spearheaded the installation of an accessible bird blind at Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, a local Lights Out program, and “Toss no Mas” community clean-up events focused on city parks.

Nancy Meister, Yuma Audubon Society (AZ)

Nancy’s work benefits birds and communities at all scales. Her focus on inclusive engagement has an impact at the local level, her advocacy work is impactful statewide, and her efforts to protect and enhance the Colorado River, a major migratory corridor for neotropical migratory birds, has impacts internationally. As President of the Yuma Audubon Society, Nancy is organizing the Arizona Council of Audubon Chapters around efforts to make birding in the Southwest more inclusive and helping to facilitate restoration on Tribal land along the Colorado River. Nancy is a longstanding partner of Audubon’s Western River Action Network – helping Audubon Southwest advance policy critical to the conservation of the region’s rivers, wetlands, and water and doing all she can to bring her Chapter and local students along for the ride.

Juliet Moderow, Northwest Illinois Audubon Society (IL)

Juliet is a biology professor at Highland Community College, birder, young mother, and an advocate for engaging people of color in her chapter activities and conservation more broadly. She often says that her mission is to engage “people of various ages who look like me”. After a brief break after her term as chapter president, Juliet is officially back on her chapter board as the education chair. In this role, Juliet maintains a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Freeport by getting children of diverse cultural backgrounds out to see Bald Eagles and inviting their participation in World Migratory Bird Day. Juliet is recognized for her remarkable community contributions by fellow birders of color including Christian Cooper, NYC Audubon. Juliet continues to lean into Audubon through her chapter, state-based council, and connection with Audubon Great Lakes.

Jordan Silvia, Audubon of Martin County (FL)

Jordan is a young, talented, and passionate artist, community builder, and rising leader with a genuine desire to bring birds and conservation to a broad and diverse audience through her art. She is a self-starter, confident and generous with her knowledge and energy, a leader who stands out. As administrator of the chapter’s Possum Long Nature Center, they engage the community in habitat restoration and have seen a significant rise in the number of wildlife species on property.

June Summers, Genesee Valley Audubon Society (NY)

June is an exemplary Audubon volunteer and an awesome one-woman force for bird conservation. June’s dedication to Audubon and our mission, her knowledge and her generosity are unparalleled. June has been leading her chapter for more than 30 years. June has been advocating for the protection of the Great Lakes and is a strong partner to Audubon New York and National Audubon staff. She has partnered with Audubon New York and joined the Healing Our Waters Coalition, flying to Washington DC to lobby, and helping bring new messengers to support Great Lakes funding and protection. She leads her chapter’s Falconcam and social media presence. She also partners with Montezuma Audubon Center staff on programming and events as well. June has held a board position on NY’s Audubon council for many years, and is currently the council vice-chair, as well as currently holding a seat on the Audubon CT/NY advisory board.

2023 Audubon Americas Outstanding Partner Award

This award is given by Audubon Americas to recognize outstanding organizational partners.

The 2023 Audubon Americas Outstanding Partner Award goes to:

  • Calidris – Colombia
  • RNOA - Colombia
  • Fondo Acción – Colombia
  • Audubon Panamá
  • Audubon Belize
  • Fundación Cosmos-Chile