by Richard H. Baker, Ph.D.
Following a nationwide search, Pelican Island Audubon Society is excited to announce the hiring of Donna Halleran as its first Executive Director. She will lead Audubon’s expanding role in conservation and environmental education in our community. Donna is not a newcomer to Audubon, having served as First Vice President for 5 years. She is intimately connected to, and supportive of the mission of Audubon to preserve and protect the animals, plants, and natural communities, and the land and water on which they depend, in Indian River County through education, advocacy, and public awareness.
A former U. S. Coast Guard Machinery technician and instructor, then a licensed social work supervisor in Boston, she relocated to Florida with husband Paul in 2014 and joined the PIAS board. As a multitasker, Donna is also a Charter member and Secretary of the Clean Water Coalition. She has brought together volunteers to host public events at Audubon House (e. g., children’s air-potato-puller contest, launching of our publication for photographers and contributors, and an Art Exhibition and Mural opening), and established the PIAS store. She participates in monitoring our annual Blue Cypress Lake Ospreys, which represent the largest Osprey nesting population in the World with over 300 active nests.
Donna has helped guide our Audubon Advocate summer camp and our after-school program for fifth graders from four Title I elementary schools each semester. These future enthusiastic scientists and leaders experience kayaking the Lagoon, hiking in our hammocks, scrub habitats and wetlands, learning about stormwater, reptiles, mosquitoes, plants, trees, and capturing their ideas through photography, drawing, and writing about their experiences.
Donna will assist in Audubon’s Trees for Life/Plants for Birds project with the goal of planting 100,000 native trees and plants. So far, we have distributed over 11,800 native plants and trees. Audubon House nursery offers over forty native plants and trees at low cost, while Southern Live Oaks, Dahoon Holly, Mahogany, and other trees are free.
Audubon looks forward to Donna’s leadership in fund-raising and planning of upcoming Audubon activities—field trips, morning walks, intensive beginning birding classes, and starting this September, helping arrange speakers at our monthly member meetings in Sebastian and Vero Beach.