This year Audubon International has reached a milestone – twenty years of helping people help the environment worldwide. Through its award-winning education and certification programs, Audubon International has helped more than 5,800 businesses, golf courses, schools, communities, and new developments improve environmental performance and manage natural resources responsibly on more than one million acres of land.
As the huge environmental challenges of the 21st Century loom large – the need to address global warming, safeguard drinking water, and conserve our natural assets for future generations – Audubon International is poised to help.
“Increasingly, people are seeking to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. Yet they often lack the information, resources, or incentives to take action,” says Kevin Fletcher, Ph.D., director of programs and administration for Audubon International. “That’s where Audubon International comes in. From individual action to community-wide initiatives, Audubon International has helped people help the environment for the past 20 years, and we will continue to foster more sustainable communities for present and future generations.”
Audubon International is best known for building bridges to those often perceived as “anti-environment” in order to drive environmental change. In 1991 it partnered with the golf industry to improve golf’s environmental game, and, in 1993, it began working with developers to improve environmental siting, design, and management of new developments.
“When we first began working with golf courses, and then again with developers, we were questioned by some of our environmental colleagues who were concerned about us working cooperatively with people who were seen as polluters and pillagers of the environment,” recalls president and CEO Ronald Dodson. “Most organizations had chosen the stick over the carrot, but our approach has since become a model for change. Very simply: it works.”
Today Audubon International is assisting more than 2,110 golf courses in twenty-four countries to protect and showcase the nature of the game. One hundred forty-five development projects in the U.S. and in eight countries, covering more than 69,000 acres of land, are receiving technical assistance to build in concert with the environment.
In addition, the organization works with more traditional audiences, like schools and homeowners, who want to sustain local wildlife and conserve resources. In recent years, Audubon International has also begun to offer strategic planning assistance and a framework for education and action to municipalities and larger resort communities to foster a healthy environment, quality of life for citizens, and economic vitality.
“One of the most remarkable results of our cooperative approach has been to see people from all walks of life, many of whom were never before involved in the environmental movement or may actually have thought that it was a bad thing, now taking on an entirely new attitude about the importance of protecting wildlife, water, and the environment as a whole,” says Dodson. “Reaching out to people with diverse views and experiences has broadened our perspectives and our results. As in nature, diversity is strength.”
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