Celebrating a new home after 50 years of being homeless!

The President’s Hoot
by Richard H. Baker, Ph.D.
May 2015

What an amazing opening for our Audubon House! The building and our 50th Birthday Party certainly turned out even better than I had ever envisioned, and proves we can do great things when we work together.  We have many good things to do in the future: raise awareness to stop global warming, educate our kids, clean up the Lagoon, and make our community sustainable.  Such a surprise: in the midst of all this, you give me the Life-time Award, a high honor coming from you, my peers, with whom we have worked so hard on our many projects together. As President since 2003, I really appreciate the opportunity to know and work with you all.  

The Audubon House will be a key piece in our community to provide a special opportunity to demonstrate how people and nature can thrive together.  Our major goal is to provide Indian River County residents an education about our natural world so everyone can make intelligent choices in the future.  Some actions we plan to provide to meet this goal:

  • After-School & Summer Youth Activities
  • Expand Nature-volunteer Stewardship Classes
  • Guided Nature Walks
  • Canoeing, Kayak, and Boat Trips
  • Develop and Place Nature Video Cams
  • Nature Microphones to hear fish sounds
  • QR coded signs for Trails
  • Plant Identification Signs
  • Model Landscape
  • Native Plant Propagation
  • Publishing a new bird book “Exposing Florida’s Birds”
  • Children’s Nature Nook Library

Many thanks for the over 350 donations to build it. We also appreciate all the pro-bono help we got from Survey and Civil Engineer Patrick Walther, Carter & Associates; Architects Jeff Ray & Richard Bialosky; Designer Amy Thoma; Project Coordination & Permitting Consultants Jimmy Sellers & Michael Walther, Coastal Technology; Landscape Architect Robin Pelensky, Surlaterre Landscape Architecture; Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing Engineer Bob Formica, P.E. Formica & Associates; Structure Engineer Bill Stoddard, Schulke, Bittle & Stoddard; Goetechnical Consultant Dave Alker, GFA International; and Attorney George Glenn.

Thanks to  1st Vice President Bob Bruce and Board Member Bill Halliday who served with me on the building committee, we got building done and put on some finishing touches, like painting it ourselves.

Our celebration was terrific, and it went very smoothly with over 35 volunteers making it successful.  Special thanks to Graham Cox, who organized the event with the committee members and the Audubon volunteers, and to Janice Broda who organized the trail schedule and the ORCA volunteers for your help in making this celebration special.

Much preparation was needed in hanging pictures, writing press releases & invitations, printing awards, cleaning floors, walls, and bathrooms, removing exotic plants, putting up and taking down the tent, and preparing games. The photographs hung on the restroom walls and their artistic arrangement dressed them up! The signs were great, Donna Halleran, as was the coffee, tea, and cookies. As always, beyond the call of duty, Bob Montanaro with his technological wizardry and excellent photography aided PIAS so ably. Accolades to Ken Gonyo, Steve Goff, and Janice Broda for making the AH natural trail, plant ID, and illustrated trail maps, and Leah Blythe LoPresti for donating the cakes.

During the event, we had a special poem written and given by Brenda Shey. George Blythe and David LoPresti provided shuttle service to the boat ramp. Dan Farley got petition signatures.  Emily Willimen did face painting. Helping at the booths and kid games, leading walks, parking cars, and other needs, besides our board members, were Flo Fisher, Jean McGovern, Dick and Lorna Thibeault, Deborah West, Becky Loftus, Deb Farley, Cate Wenzing, Joe Carroll, Jill Halliday, Brenda Baker, Andy Liu, Tessa Chapman and two IRCHS students Maggie Spero and Alex Gabbert.

The volunteer ORCA office was staffed by Paula Eifler, Marta Kendrick, Trich Druz, Marylyn Crank, Mary Oakley, JJ Romano and Susan Warmer.

Many thanks to Kristen and Mike Beck for donating the large tent, and whose kayaks and presence at the Oslo boat ramp made the day with the help of Tessa Chapman, Lorella Quispe, Liam, Florian, and Tanner. Some folks had never been in a Kayak before, and they couldn’t believe the tours were free. The tent was a great deal of effort for you, but it was so appreciated and essential to provide the needed shade and it reassured us that rain or shine, we would hold this event.

Thanks also to Lt Chuck Kirby and Deputy Walter Zavala from the Sherriff’s office for traffic control, Barbara Hoffman, Cultural Council, for promotion, and Keep Indian River Beautiful for removing trash on Oslo Road.

Finally I appreciate especially ALL of the PIAS board members and spouses working together to make this a huge success!  Special thanks to Mr. Manatee, Erik Liu (my grandson!), and all attendees for coming. Not a bad crowd for the event (See our Facebook video: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pelican-Island-Audubon-Society/365598263599458 and an article in Vero News: http://www.veronews.com/news/indian_river_county/spotlight/audubon-society-turns-as-new-vero-home-opens/article_e15920e8-ec07-11e4-a0f4-b7c4f74a03f1.html)

Thank you, Thank you all for a great building, celebration, and award!

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