President’s Message: We’ve Come a Long Way!

As summer begins, it’s time to reflect on the past year. It always amazes me what Buena Vista Audubon has accomplished. Just a year ago, we became the proud owners of the Andy Mauro Preserve. Following this exciting event, we began the process of creating a plan for restoring this land to native habitat for threatened bird species. The U.S. Marine Corps is our partner in this project.


Our birding program continues to thrive, with new bird walks that explore diverse habitats throughout the county. Drawn in by our team of dedicated leaders, the community is participating at record levels. The BVAS-hosted Christmas Bird Count was another big success. Steve Brad’s spring birdathon brought in record donations. Evening informational programs took members around the county and around the world.


Through storytelling, crafts, and nature education, our volunteers and guides continue to enrich the lives of local children. For over two decades, students have visited our center and walked our trails. Every so often I run into young adults who remember visiting the nature center through one of these classes and are now bringing their own kids. Because schools have limited field trip budgets, BVAS has initiated a bus voucher program to help cover costs. Another school program, Sharing our Shores, has entered its third year. If you visit South Ponto and South Cardiff State Beaches, you can see the posters our young participants have made to help educate the public about protecting vulnerable shorebirds.


Special events continue to bring the community together in our celebration of nature. Our annual Endangered Species Day is a children’s event that combines fun with learning. Children’s author, Janell Cannon, and TV’s Chef Amanda hosted last fall’s bat appreciation program, enchanting a full house of kids and parents. The annual Birdhouse Auction once again brought in critical funds

to support our nature center and provided the setting for a joyful community gathering.


We addressed needed repairs: replacing the north-facing wall, fixing the back walkway to improve drainage, and re-finishing the hallway floor. Under the guidance of Studio Ace, local children painted the hallway with wildlife-themed art. In addition to maintaining our own native garden, the plant club has been helping elementary schools create and nurture gardens of their own.

We achieved a major fundraising goal, raising $500,000 for our Nature Fund Endowment, established by benefactors Brian Malk and Nancy Heitel just over two years ago. Thanks to all of you, Buena Vista raised $166,667 towards this effort, and Brian and Nancy matched this with $333,334. Continuing on their generous fundraising path, Brian and Nancy initiated the Malk Nature Fund last year, geared to provide annual support to BVAS and other non-profit conservation groups in North County.


Last November, we hired Megan Marshall to help manage the Mauro Preserve, and the Wetlands Reserve (our property across the street from the nature center); she will assist in other nature center-related activities. Like Center Manager Annette Schneider, Megan has an inexhaustible level of enthusiasm for all the work we send her way.


What is ahead? We are in the process of planning and implementing exciting projects that have been on our wish list for some time: a boardwalk for our trail, new or repaired viewing docks, an interactive watershed table, plant signage, and a Master Plan to help guide the future of our exhibits and nature center. We look forward to another

exciting year.

— Natalie Shapiro, Board President


  1. Chris Clark on February 2, 2019 at 4:24 PM

    Great letter, Natalie! We have come a long way, and you laid it out there nicely. Thank you for all that you do.
    Chris Clark

    • Natalie Shapiro on February 18, 2019 at 12:49 PM

      Thanks, Chris-you as well!

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