This May, the Travis Audubon Board of Directors appointed two new members to one-year terms. Meet our newest board members, Jason and Vidhya:
For as long as he can remember, Jason has been interested in birds. As the firstborn of three, his mother had a lot of time to take him on walks, pointing out all the plants and animals along the way. He also had the benefit of growing up near one of the best zoos in the world, the San Antonio Zoo, and was fascinated with the aviary there. Jason was the kid who pored over bird field guides at the breakfast table, who pointed out rare birds to groups of Audubon Society retirees on field trips. He put birding on the back burner for a while in the 1990s and early 2000s to focus on music, although he still enjoyed it occasionally when he could. After his grandmother passed away in 2014, getting back into nature felt like a good way to find peace in her passing, but he also wanted a new challenge. Jason had seen a lot of the same species living in Texas his whole life, so he decided to start taking photos of the ones he’d seen. After a few years and an equipment upgrade, he’s excited to finally be taking what he considers professional shots of some of his favorite subjects. Jason tries to capture each bird in its natural environment using minimal editing, with a goal of raising awareness of the birds in the area and to pique others’ interest in birdwatching and conservation.
Vidhya has inspired hundreds of people into birdwatching globally by combining her interest in birds with her artistic talent of making Rangolis, an Indian art form involving colorful decorative patterns usually made on the floor.
Her birding mania started in India back in 2012 when she set eyes on flocks of Rose-ringed Parakeets during a Sunday birding event organized by the Bangalore birders club. Since joining eBird in 2014, she became more involved with the thriving birding community in India. It has only strengthened since her move to Austin in 2019. One of the first things she did after arriving at Austin was looking up the local birding community and joining the Travis Audubon society events. Her perseverance in birdwatching wouldn’t be possible without her supportive family. She has continued her daily birding streak for more than 1500 days, received eBirder of the year 2016, India, and several eBirder of the month awards.
Determined to spread the joy of birding, she found captivating ways to engage kids and elders alike. Organizing and leading plenty of educational bird walks, conducting birding activities for school kids, leveraging social media to influence countless others. Along with the support of organizations such as Bird Count India, Birding Buddies, National Conservation Foundation India, she channelized her passion into bird conservation and spreading its importance.
To enhance her understanding of birds, she took part in the Basic Ornithology certification course, bird educator workshops, and regional birders’ meets. She participated in surveys such as the Asian Waterbird Census, which took part in the East Godavari region, one of the most significant wetlands in all of Asia. She is looking forward to creating a local impact by joining the Travis Audubon Society Board.