Advocacy

After 27 Years of Service, a Veteran Is Using Her Training for Conservation

Mary Abrams joined Audubon's Climate Ambassador program to serve and protect habitats like the ones where she grew up.

For Mary Abrams, a forest is her happy place. Growing up in Piseco, New York, a small town in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, Abrams created her fondest memories playing outdoors and in the woods. Today, she feels responsible for these habitats and is proudly working to preserve them after joining North Carolina’s Audubon Ambassador program.

Coming from a long line of military veterans, Abrams’s family instilled in her the value of service, protecting, and patriotism. So, when she was old enough to make the choice, she decided to continue the family legacy. 

Last year, after 27 years in the military, Abrams joined Audubon's Climate Ambassador program. Using the communication and management skills she acquired in the military, she now works to promote conservation and action on climate change in her state. 

The program, which was launched in 2015, recruits volunteers who are interested in becoming involved with climate change, bird protection, and taking legal action for climate preservation. Designed for everyone, regardless of their knowledge of climate change or conservation, the program trains its members to become thoughtful stewards that represent Audubon’s emphasis on bipartisan solutions.

Abrams discovered the program on her own and attended an introductory meeting where she met Kim Brand, one of Audubon’s field organizers in North Carolina and the founder of the ambassador program. Brand immediately saw promise in Abrams.  “When I first met Mary I was very impressed with how interested she was and how eager she is to learn,” says Brand, describing Abrams as open, interested, and friendly. “Those are three of the great characteristics in people who are in the ambassador’s program.”

Kim’s gut was right. Since Abrams joined the program she has combined her desire to serve, military skillset, and passion for the outdoors into event planning and a letter-writing campaign aiming to influence the legislative process in North Carolina. 

“Since I joined the ambassador program I have met with several representatives, but one of my favorite days was Lobby Day,” Abrams says. According to Brand, Lobby Day is one of the most meaningful events the ambassador program organizes. During a typical day, Audubon North Carolina’s team flocks to the capital and gathers signatures for bird conservation and habitat preservation with lawmakers in Raleigh. More than 40 volunteers meet with North Carolina’s lawmakers over the course of the day and speak with their representatives about land protection, habitat management, coastal protection, and bird-friendly renewable energy. 

Long before her retirement, Abrams says she knew that she would end up in conservation, and she is proud to be the type of person who takes the extra step. “People always talk about doing their part,” Abrams says. “Well, we have to do more than our part because so many people are not doing theirs.”

“You know,” she continues, in a soft, reflective voice, “for me, it just comes down to ‘this is another way for me to serve.’”

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