At Travis Audubon, our mission is to inspire conservation through birding. The events of the past year have made it clearer than ever that racism, discrimination, and inequality threaten this mission, cause harm, and put lives at risk.
As leaders of a 68-year old organization that aims to better communities through conservation and education, we feel a responsibility to engage in humble inquiry about our contributions to systems that uphold injustice and perpetuate inequality, especially when it comes to access to nature. We are committed to examining our own biases and to creating policies and strategies that prioritize inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (IDEA). We also recognize that we must partner with and amplify the voices of those in vulnerable and underserved communities as they seek to connect with nature.
The TAS Board started work in June on the statement you see below. Represented here are hours of sharing, disagreement, examination, and vulnerability. We know that it’s not perfect, but we hope that it is a good start to communicate the goals we mean to achieve and the processes we’ll implement for accountability.
This is important work, and we understand that it will take time. We are sincere in our desire to show that birding is for everyone, and that every person from every background is welcome in Travis Audubon. We hope you’ll join us in achieving these goals.
Eric Stager, President, Travis Audubon Board of Directors
Nicole Netherton, Executive Director, Travis Audubon
Birding is for everyone.
Travis Audubon is committed to ensuring that all people—Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, LGBTQ+, people of all abilities, ages, and socioeconomic status—are welcome in our organization and feel safe and invited to enjoy birds and nature.
Inclusion, diversity, equity and access are not tangential to the protection of birds and bird habitat. They are essential to achieving these aims. To succeed in our mission to inspire conservation through birding, we must increase access, opportunity, and enjoyment of birds for everyone, especially for those communities and individuals who have been underserved.
We recognize that we have not adequately prioritized this work before now. We commit to these goals and actions:
1. Invite all people of Central Texas to enjoy birding and become members and friends of Travis Audubon. This includes Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, LGBTQ+, people of all abilities, ages, and socioeconomic status.
2. Extend a strong sense of welcome, hospitality, open access, and full inclusion to every person who wants to be involved with Travis Audubon, reflected in both our actions and communications.
3. Develop leadership opportunities and encourage participation within our organization by people who reflect the full diversity of Central Texas.
4. Engage and join with racially and culturally diverse communities and organizations to encourage interest in birding and conservation.
5. Cultivate better dialogue with our neighbors and community members near our Sanctuaries.
6. Encourage, amplify, and directly support efforts by Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian birders, LGBTQ+ birders, and birders of all abilities in our programming and communication platforms.
7. Dedicate resources (both money and staff time) to removing physical and economic barriers to birding. This includes providing scholarships, equipment, tools, and educational opportunities where and when we find an opportunity to create a more inclusive organization.
8. Dedicate resources and/or provide an annual donation to an organization working in racially and culturally diverse communities that is furthering birding, conservation, or other environmental/ nature work.
9. Commit to continue learning and having conversations about racism and discrimination, and to critically examine our own biases and misconceptions.
10. Charge a standing committee to consistently assess, reflect upon, challenge, and report our progress towards these goals at least quarterly.