Soaring at 70: Reflections by Jean Warneke

Artwork from the 50th Anniversary event.

In this monthly feature, our members and friends have been invited to reflect on and celebrate Travis Audubon’s 70 years. 

Soaring at 70:
Reflections by Jean Warneke

Travis Audubon Society at seventy years! That is an amazing feat, and the organization continues to grow by teaching birding to novices and to those more experienced, offering interesting programs, and by being an effective voice for conservation.

Bob and I joined TAS in 1990 when we moved to Austin, and we have been active members since. Bob served on the Board from the late 90s to the early 00s, including two terms as president. I provided meeting snacks during many of those years. Later, I also served on the Board, and I coordinated two of our Victor Emanuel Conservation Award Luncheons.

Back in 2002, we spearheaded the Birds of a Feather 50th Anniversary Gala, a dinner held at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It was a beautiful September evening (an event planner’s dream come true!) at a gorgeous place with 300 attendees! The tables were decorated with bandanas and the centerpieces were cowboy boots that had been turned into birdhouses. The silent auction table seemed to be a mile long; donations included beaded jewelry, bird baths, field guides, overnight stays, and artwork. I remember at the end of the night two men arguing over who had won some beautiful Japanese bird prints. (The closing minute of a silent auction can be perilous!)

We asked all TAS members to stand, then asked anyone who’d been a member five years to remain standing, then ten, twenty, etc. Old timers like Fred and Marie Webster, Red and Marjorie Adams, Lawrence Buford, Ed Kutac, and his sister Ethel Kutac, were there; all of them 40+ year members. I remember that the first time I met former TAS president Shelia Hargis was when she volunteered to make nametags for the event.

Austin Councilmember Daryl Slusher read a proclamation declaring that day as Travis Audubon Day in the city. George Cofer introduced US Congressman Lloyd Doggett who made remarks, and Andy Sansom introduced Victor Emanuel as the night’s keynote speaker. The catered buffet dinner and musical entertainment by the Doug Hall Trio concluded a magical evening.

Bob and I have several friends that we met through TAS over the last 32 years. Every ten years or so it seems the membership undergoes an extensive change, but TAS continues to draw active members and supporters who are interested in birds and conservation.

By Jean Warneke, Friend & Former Board Member

“Signal Smoke” article from November 2002.