Celebrating a Naturalist’s Legacy

By Robert McLemore

Because of the generous contributions of the members and community of Travis Audubon, we have been able to pivot during the pandemic and continue to fulfill our mission of conservation, education and advocacy. A hallmark is the beautiful and professional production of this year’s Victor Emanuel Conservation Award Celebration held “At Home” honoring Greg Lasley. If you want to watch or re-watch this Celebration, you can see it at this link.

Greg started out his outdoor enthusiasm as an Eagle Scout earning the Birding Merit Badge and continuing thru his career in law enforcement. But it wasn’t until he “retired” that it truly blossomed into a passion and friendship across the globe. Twenty years with Victor Emanuel Nature Tours and tens of thousands of people helped on iNaturalist truly gave our local hero a world-wide reach.

Like many of us, Greg’s passion for birding took root when he saw a Painted Bunting on his feeders. It is only appropriate that much of this year’s fund-raising imagery features a Painted Bunting as well as a dragonfly. Many will agree that his passion for “bird, bugs, and the outdoors” has gone a long way towards many birders also having the same joys with dragonflies.

Chuck Sexton served as the Emcee for the event and started off the Virtual FOG (Friends of Greg) meeting. Lots of his friends shared wonderful, loving and inspirational stories of their shared memories birding, pursuing dragonflies and his photography. “Every time I see a dragonfly, I think of Greg.” “I miss you, Greg”. Throughout the celebration we were touched with the impacts that Greg had on his friends and community. Austin Mayor Steve Adler even declared the day of October 8, 2021 to be Greg W Lasley Day!

Eric Stager and Kevin Anderson kicked off the storytelling of Greg’s conservation legacy from Hornsby Bend, their natural habitat. I’ve been there dozens of times but never realized that the artwork in the visitor’s center was from Greg until now. Personally, I can picture Greg at Hornsby Bend with his intensity while photographing the fall migration. I’ll reflect on those times as the fall season begins in earnest.

Victor Emanuel warmly recognized his good friend and helped segue to just a handful of the many lives touched by Greg. Victor is also the consummate professional in his reminder that the event is both an opportunity to remember and help to contribute to the on-going work of Travis Audubon.

Gayle Stallings was the fundraising host as she has done “in person” over the last 12 years. You could donate at a select level or choose your own amount. The goal of this year’s fundraising was $110,000 and there were a lot of wonderful auction choices. At the time of the recording we had reached $85,000 and now it is over $97,000! Wow. And the best way to continue Greg’s work and legacy is to help support Travis Audubon at this link. At the bottom you can ensure that your tribute goes to the memory of Greg Lasley.

Remember – Travis Audubon has been around for almost 70 years and Greg was a part of that legacy for 40. Those were 40 years actively helping with our friends and community

* * *

A special thanks to our sponsors for making this fundraiser an incredible success! See the full sponsor list here.