Are We Having Fun Yet?

Here’s the resounding answer from 21 new Audubon Ambassadors, who were recently trained at Spring Island near Beaufort:


On June 17th, nature lovers hailing from Charleston to Hilton Head gathered for a unique blend of bird lore, bird advocacy training, and hands-on encounters with a Tufted Titmouse, a White-eyed Vireo, and two Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

After a titillating bird banding demo led by Audubon’s own Jen McCarthey Tyrrell and Matt Johnson, the soon-to-be Ambassadors spent the rest of the day in interactive workshops.

These people were the first of hundreds across the state who will be trained to channel their love of birds and natural landscapes into actions that will make a big difference for some of South Carolina’s most vulnerable wildlife.

The Audubon Ambassadors program focuses on climate change with an emphasis on bringing all political ideologies together to protect birds.  In 2014, Audubon conducted a comprehensive study that classified 314 bird species as threatened or endangered by climate change.

If nothing is done about climate change, birds that many South Carolinians hold dear  including eagles, terns, skimmers, pelicans, and plovers  are expected to lose most of their ranges by the year 2050.

After attending a workshop, the Ambassadors will continue working with our staff to hone the following skills:

  • Communication: Talking about climate change effectively with everyone from family members to work colleagues to public officials.
  • Engagement: Encouraging others to take meaningful action – for example, planting a bird-friendly yard or volunteering to restore important habitat.
  • Advocacy: Hosting presentations, meeting with elected officials, and encouraging friends who love nature and wildlife to make their voices heard.

Perhaps the most meaningful part of our recent training, participants said, was learning how to speak confidently with public officials.

“Here’s what I realized,” said Charlie Stricklin from West Ashley. “We can talk to our representatives. In fact, they work for us.”

“Advocacy seemed overwhelming before,” agreed Rufus Jones, from Mt. Pleasant, “Now I’m pretty sure I can do it.”

Following up on our successful Spring Island training, Audubon South Carolina will be helping our new friends in Beaufort promote a plastic bag ban in their area. We’ll also plan a field trip to the beach in the fall.

We do need to advocate for policy changes. We also need time together just to enjoy the birds we love  and to enjoy each other!

Rufus Jones releasing a Tufted Titmouse. Photo: Nolan Schillerstrom
A Red-bellied Woodpecker is shown off to Audubon Ambassadors. Photo: Nolan Schillerstrom
Jen McCarthey Tyrrell about to release a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Photo: Nolan Schillerstrom
A White-eyed Vireo on display. Photo: Nolan Schillerstrom
Matt Johnson demonstrating the bird banding process used to study birds like this White-eyed Vireo. Photo: Nolan Schillerstrom
Audubon Ambassadors group photo! Photo: Nolan Schillerstrom

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