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October 26, 2018

Highlights from the 121st Audubon Annual Meeting

Audubon Society of Rhode Island held it's 121st Annual Meeting at the Squantum Association's waterfront club on October 21, 2018. Annual awards for Educator and Volunteer of the Year were presented as well as the selection of officers and new members for the 2018-2019 Board of Directors and Council of Advisors. See details below.

A captivating keynote address on the state of Rhode Island's birds was given by Audubon Board Member Dr. Charles Clarkson. Dr. Clarkson is the coordinator for the first Rhode Island Breeding Bird Atlas since the 1980's, a five-year effort currently underway thanks to the help of over 200 volunteers.

The meeting also included a gubernatorial forum featuring major candidates running for Governor of the State of Rhode Island - Allan Fung, Joseph Trillo and Gina Raimondo. Each candidate was given the opportunity to deliver their platform and address key environmental issues facing the state.

It was a day of celebration - highlighting the collective commitment to building environmental awareness and promoting conservation to generations of Rhode Islanders.

Thank you to ecoRI News for co-sponsoring this event.

The Gubernatorial Forum

Video is by Ayla Fox of Shed Light Productions, courtesy of ecoRI News. To read reporter Tim Faulkner's write up on the forum, click here.

2018 Volunteer of the Year

Audubon Society of Rhode Island 2018 Volunteer of the Year Kristine Stuart Gubernatorial Forum Gina Raimondo Allan Fung Joe Trillo ecoRINews Annual Meeting

Photo from left: Audubon Senior Director of Conservation Scott Ruhren presents the Volunteer of the Year Award to Kristine Stuart.

North Kingstown resident Kristine Stuart was named 2018 Volunteer of the Year.

North Kingstown resident Kristine Stuart was honored as Volunteer of the Year by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island at the Society’s Annual Meeting held on October 21, 2018. Audubon recognized Ms. Stuart for her dedication as a volunteer and strong commitment to Audubon.

Ms. Stuart has been a member and volunteer with Audubon for over 30 years. However, within the last five years alone she has logged over 500 volunteer hours. Ms. Stuart has played a key role in Audubon’s effort to seek national land trust accreditation, an arduous process of record keeping, property monitoring, and policy updates.

He willingness to organize and update all the necessary files and research the details when needed have made her an invaluable addition to the Audubon team. “She is always positive, thorough and ready to jump in and do what is needed,” said Audubon Senior Director of Conservation Scott Ruhren. “Her devotion to this daunting task has allowed the Audubon Conservation staff to concentrate on monitoring and stewardship of the properties, while Kristine is behind the scenes insuring that the paperwork is updated, in order, and meeting specifications.”

Volunteers form the backbone of Audubon, and the Society applauds Ms. Stuart for her dedication to the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and our environmental mission.

2018 Educators of the Year

Audubon Society of Rhode Island Annual Meeting 2018 Educators of the Year Gubernatorial Forum Gina Raimondo Joe Trillo Allan Fung ecoRINews

Photo caption from left: Audubon Educator Sharon Riley, Awardee Kelly Brum, Awardee Renee MacDougall, Audubon Educator Lisa Maloney, and Audubon Senior Director of Education Lauren Parmelee.

Bristol residents Renee MacDougall and Kelly Brum of the Rockwell Elementary School in Bristol, Rhode Island received the Audubon 2018 Educators of the Year award.

Educators Renee MacDougall and Kelly Brum of the Rockwell School in Bristol, Rhode Island have received the Audubon 2018 Educators of the Year Award. They are being honored for their dedication and collaborative efforts to bring environmental education to their second grade students and their ongoing commitment to providing hands-on science and nature experiences in their classrooms.

The Audubon Society of Rhode Island recognized these educators at the Society’s Annual Meeting held on October 21, 2018.

For the past four years, MacDougall and Brum have brought Audubon educators into the Rockwell School throughout the school year for a variety of nature and science programs including studies on birds, whales, vertebrates and ecosystems. These programs enhance the science curriculum and strengthen the children’s connection to the natural world.

The high quality and ongoing educational collaboration that has developed between Rockwell School teachers and Audubon serves as a role model. Audubon is fortunate to support many outstanding educators who work to improve science education and promote environmental literacy. These educators find innovative ways to incorporate environmental education practices into their schools and curriculum. The Audubon Society applauds educators Renee MacDougall and Kelly Brum for their dedication to environmental education that creates a greater awareness of their local environment.

Newly Elected Board of Directors

Audubon Society of Rhode Island has elected Providence residents Robert Berkelhammer and David Caldwell, Jr. to the Board of Directors.

Robert Berkelhammer is a founding partner with the law firm Chace, Ruttenberg & Freedman, LLP. He earned a B.A. from the University of Rochester and a J.D. from Boston University School of Law. He specializes in corporate and real estate law and was recognized in the 2018 edition of Best Lawyers for his work. As a member of the firm's Real Estate Group, he represented clients in a variety of real estate transactions, including a substantial practice assisting developers of affordable housing.

Mr. Berkelhammer has served as President of the Jewish Family Service. He has also served on the board of R.I. Jewish Historical Association and the Jewish Federation of R.I. A Rhode Island native, he resides in Providence with his family.

David Caldwell, Jr. is Owner/Principal of Caldwell & Johnson, Green Builders. He earned a B.A. from the University of Rhode Island, an M.A. from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from the University of California. As part of the growing “green building movement,” the company is committed to building homes in an energy efficient, environmentally sustainable manner.

Mr. Caldwell has extensive experience in sustainable land use and environmental policy. He has served on boards for the RI Builders Association, Builders Healing Heroes, Housing Works RI, RI Green Building Council, Housing Resource Commission and RI Climate Change Coordination Council Advisory Board. He resides in Providence with his family.

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Through donor support of any kind, Audubon can fulfill its mission of educating five-year-olds about the wonders of wildlife, managing habitat for declining pollinator species, or permanently protecting forests, fields, and wetlands, it is connecting its founding legacy to what lies ahead.

There are so many ways to give great gifts while making a positive impact this holiday season! All proceeds support Audubon's work to protect birds, wildlife and their habitats through conservation, education, and advocacy.

Funds collected at the event from hole-in-one contests, putting challenges, and a gift basket raffle were donated to the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. The event raised $27,000 which Audubon will use to fund summer camp scholarships for youth at wildlife refuges in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts. Thank you, Bank of America!