Atlanta Audubon has named Jared Teutsch as its new Executive Director. Teutsch comes to Atlanta Audubon from The Nature Conservancy in Georgia, where he served as Director of Conservation for five years.
As Executive Director, Teutsch will be responsible for enhancing Atlanta Audubon’s programs through organizational development, impactful advocacy, and continued growth. In addition to these strategic initiatives, he will oversee a roughly $1 million budget and ensure the long-term viability of the organization through successful fundraising, in cooperation with the board and staff, to meet the financial and strategic needs of the organization.
Atlanta Audubon Society is a member-supported, non-profit organization dedicated to developing a conservation-minded and fully engaged Georgia where birds prosper, habitats flourish, and public understanding grows. With the mission of building places where birds and people thrive, Atlanta Audubon strives to create bird-friendly communities through conservation, education, and advocacy along with activities that build community and foster the joy of birding.
“With the recent devastating news in the Audubon Climate Report and the news that we have lost nearly three billion birds in North America over the last 50 years, we need outstanding leadership in conservation," says Esther Stokes, Chair, Board of Directors. “We feel confident we have found that person in Jared. We believe he has both the skill set and the vision to propel Atlanta Audubon to the next level and to help us expand our work building places where birds and people thrive.”
Prior to his appointment as Executive Director for Atlanta Audubon, Teutsch served as Director of Conservation for The Nature Conservancy where he managed a diverse team of 21 scientists and practitioners while overseeing budgets, work plans, strategy reporting, and key communications. He has extensive experience developing fundraising and policy support for critical conservation efforts, including ecosystem restoration, habitat management, and land protection. He also has expertise communicating with elected officials, government staff, business leaders, and communities. Jared brings to this position more than 18 years of nonprofit and public service experience, including 15 years in senior management, specifically devoted to conservation.
In the past, Teutsch has directed the Alliance for the Great Lakes invasive species and water sustainability programs, while serving as the senior liaison to state and federal officials. He has helped write many laws and regulations on ecosystem restoration and invasive species, and been recognized as a leader in conservation policy and law—including being appointed by the governor of New Hampshire to help spearhead efforts to protect state-owned waterfront habitat.
A native of Michigan, Teutsch holds a bachelor of science in environmental science and policy from Michigan State University and a Juris Doctor degree focusing on land use and water law from Vermont Law School. He is a graduate of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership (IGEL) and a member of the Georgia Ornithological Society and the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative. He and his wife live in Canton with their three children.
“I am excited about this opportunity to lead Atlanta Audubon and help build upon the legacy of local conservation,” says Teutsch. “I have built my career on changing the world by making a positive impact on my community, and I look forward to working with the board and staff to create a vision for a sustainable ecosystem where birds and people thrive.”
Atlanta Audubon Society is building places where birds and people thrive. We create birds -friendly communities through conservation, education, and advocacy.
by Dottie Head, Director of Membership & Communications
Atlanta Audubon Society has officially recognized Hummingbird Haven at Southgate Farm, in Meriwether County, as an Atlanta Audubon Certified Wildlife Sanctuary. The 41-acre tract contains a mixture of pasture, fields, and woods along with improved garden areas containing a variety of native and pollinator-friendly plants. Hummingbird Haven at Southgate Farm is the first Meriwether County property certified as an Atlanta Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Atlanta Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary Program encourages both private and public properties to enhance their land for birds and other wildlife by installing native plants and providing food, water, and shelter for birds and other wildlife.
Hummingbird Haven is part of Southgate Farm, owned by Roslyn and Bill Johnson. Roslyn is a Master Gardener in Coweta County and Bill recently completed the Master Naturalist Certification, making them well qualified to transform their acreage into a certified wildlife habitat.
The 41-acre Southgate Farm is one of several parcels of the original, much larger Fuller Farm that was subdivided and sold nearly two decades ago. For the past 17 years, the Johnsons have used the property to breed, raise, and sell horses for the Olympic equestrian sport of Eventing. When not tending the horses, Roslyn and Bill have been fueling their gardening/naturalists passion by creating a large pollinator garden, or a “Hummingbird Haven” as they refer to it, featuring a variety of native plant species, including rudbekia, milkweed, American beautyberry, cardinal flower, and many others.
“The combination of fields, woods, creeks, and blue hole springs are just a small part of what makes this place special,” says Roslyn Johnson. “While some development is inevitable, our rural lands, water, and wildlife are precious and deserve our support. My husband, Bill, and I decided to do our small part to help preserve this beautiful land.”
“Atlanta Audubon is thrilled to work with Roslyn and Bill Johnson to add Hummingbird Haven at Southgate Farm to our network of more than 550 certified wildlife habitats in Atlanta and north Georgia. This is our first Atlanta Audubon-certified Wildlife Sanctuary in Meriwether County, but we hope it won’t be our last,” says Gabe Andrle, habitat conservation program coordinator for Atlanta Audubon.
For more information on certifying a property as an Atlanta Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary, visit www.atlantaaudubon.org/wildlife-sanctuary-certification.
Atlanta Audubon Society is building places where birds and people thrive. We create birds -friendly communities through conservation, education, and advocacy.
by Kiana Leveritte, Greening Youth Foundation Intern, and Gabe Andrle, Conservation Program Coordinator
When did you know that working in the environmental science field was a career for you?
As early as I can remember, I have been fascinated by nature. I spent many hours reading books, watching TV shows, and most importantly spending time outside. Whether it was catching frogs or playing sports, the outdoors was the place to be. The idea of having a career in the environmental field was affirmed while I was a teen volunteer at Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo. This program brought together a large cohort of my peers who all shared a love for nature. It not only allowed us to grow our passion and knowledge with regard to the natural world, but it connected us with professionals in the field who showed us that many career options were available. This experience led me to major in environmental sciences in college, which prepared me for the future.
What made you want to work for Atlanta Audubon?
My current position at Atlanta Audubon is the perfect blend of my past professional experiences. It was realizing this that drove me to apply for the position. Since I was a senior in college, I have had a part-time position as an interpretive ranger at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This position is a mix of environmental education, habitat restoration, and forest management. My most recent full-time position was as a bird keeper at Zoo Atlanta, focused on animal husbandry and conservation. As Conservation Program Coordinator at Atlanta Audubon, I get to take my bird-conservation experience and mix it with my habitat-conservation experience in managing our Wildlife Sanctuary Certification Program and our Plants for Birds program.
What do you look forward to working at Atlanta Audubon?
I look forward to finding creative ways to build places where birds and people thrive. I love problem solving and I love connecting people with nature. Whether it is brainstorming ideas for new programs or helping someone find the best way to build wildlife habitat in their backyard, I enjoy building a strong and welcoming, environmentally-minded community.
What have been some of your favorite projects to work on so far?
I am just starting, but I am incredibly excited to be working on our Wildlife Sanctuary Program. This program allows me to connect with people in the community and empower them to be stewards in urban conservation. This program has so much potential for growth not only within our organization, but with every individual who participates in it.
What are some of your favorite places to go birding in Atlanta and its metro area?
I am really bad at picking favorites. I enjoy birding wherever I can. I think that is one of my favorite things about birding: you can do it anywhere, and you never know what you will see or learn. I enjoy going to places I have never been before, to see new birds, new people and a new part of the city. I also deeply value birding close to home because I can connect with my community and neighborhood.
Do you have a favorite plant? Why or why not?
Not sure, but if I had to pick, perhaps it would be American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). As a young boy, I used to collect fallen limbs from sycamore trees and use them in my temporary terrariums where I would keep frogs and toads. I loved the distinct and unique shapes of the branches and variety within the bark. These large trees have a wide range and always stick out to me. They are a great shade tree and attract plenty of birds.
Do you have a favorite bird. Why or why not?
I can never pick a favorite when it comes to animals. My answer will probably always change as I am constantly learning more about them and seeing them in new and unique ways. Some of my current favorites are all woodpeckers, Green Jays, Carolina Chickadees, and King Vultures.
Do you have any advice for prospective wildlife sanctuary owners, or those that are just now dipping their feet into environmental stewardship and conservation?
Three great pieces of advice are 1) spend more time outside observing the natural world around you—nothing beats time spent in the field. 2) never stop learning—seek new information, new perspectives, and new resources. 3) be positive—making the most out of the opportunities you have, no matter the circumstances, is something to be proud of.
by Adam Betuel, Director of Conservation
Bird. Owl. Duck. Tree. Bush. Grass. Bug. Rock. These words represent about 15 to 20 percent of the vocabulary of my 20-month-old daughter, Cora. For anyone who knows me, this is hardly a surprise. My life, mind, and home are all littered with things feathered and nature related. Cora is going to have to work hard to avoid things outdoorsy should she decide not to go that route. Even her middle name, Teal, is from a bird. Poor child.
All jokes aside, I value nature and family and how we as a unit engage with nature. While we (mainly I) try to not overwhelm Cora with her father’s obsession, we want nothing more than for her to have an understanding and appreciation of our planet and its ecosystems. With this in mind, we strive to get outside, to explore, to bring nature into our home and lives, and to grow as a family while enjoying the natural world.
Living in an apartment complex, we currently do not have an Atlanta Audubon Sanctuary in which to enjoy nature. Nonetheless, that does not stop us from providing resources for birds, enjoying the plant life present, and being in awe of the organisms that visit our space. Swinging from our shepherd’s hook that I (probably illegally) have clamped to our second-story balcony, hummingbird feeders and suet blocks attract our feathered friends. This summer a favorite family activity was enjoying the twilight hours outside as our Ruby-throats came to feast before heading to bed. A perched hummingbird would bring a look of pure amazement and joy to Cora’s face, only to be topped by a raucous squirrel spinning from our other feeders.
Another family tradition while walking our dog around our complex is to point out the plant life to Cora. She is an amazingly quick study, and it melts my heart when she accurately points to a tree or a patch of grass. Recently we have literally been taking the time to smell the roses (and any other landscaped flower). Cora looks at us with such pride each time she inhales will all her might. Rubbing rough bark, smooth rocks, and crunchy magnolia leaves are things we always make time to do. Ants, butterflies, and all other things creepy-crawly bring movement to our study of things still. Cora’s interests are broad and seem to match those of a true ecologist. I will wait for a later date to tell her why all the privet, nandina, and English ivy across our complex are actually not as great as they seem.
Bird-themed books and a Charley Harper mobile are a few ways we bring nature inside with our family. Though we try to limit Cora’s screen time, she has been known to scream out “Bird!” at least a handful of times during each episode of Jason Ward’s “Birds of North America." Though far from native, Cora’s best friends include our indoor cats, dog, and a turtle. We have always been animal people, but now that we see how Cora enjoys, values, and learns from our pets, we appreciate their presence in our family even more. Our home is a place full of nature in a multitude of forms, and we love it that way. We only hope that this level of immersion will permeate our little one and meld with outdoor experiences.
With our daughter still being so young, most of our interactions and lessons revolving around plants and wildlife occur near our home. However, the Betuels are also lovers of adventure and time in the field. Even my non-birding spouse loves to take in new landscapes and will even become enthralled by a new bird on occasion. This past February, the three of us set off for road trip across the Yucatan. The tacos and beaches were nothing to scoff at, but the real stars of the show were the unique plant life, jumbo lizards, and the colorful birds. A highlight for all of us was a boat trip up the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve that yielded at least 1,000 American Flamingos. “Mingo” became a new favorite word of Cora’s and now her room is dotted with pink bird art and a long-legged stuffed animal.
Just a few weeks after Cora entered this world, we took a family birding outing at Clyde Shepard, and we have not looked back. We bird together, explore as a family, and, thanks to Cora, make sure to slow down and open our eyes to the wonders around us. We do not have a sanctuary yet, but we make the time to find ecological value wherever we can and to get out to those wild and bird-friendly places. Enjoying nature as a family is something my wife and I have been thoughtful and intentional about for the betterment of our daughter. However, while she has enjoyed every second of it, our focus has undoubtedly improved us more than her. With phones down, hands held, and eyes open, we as parents and partners are growing and continuing to connect. The past year and half has been the best time of my life and brought me more purpose than I could have imagined. And, while I may have a little less time to chase rare birds my connection to nature has never been stronger.
By Georgia LaMar, Atlanta Audubon Volunteer Sanctuary Certifier
When did you decide to make your home an Audubon sanctuary?
Two years ago, I bought my house with the vision of creating a wildlife-friendly, mostly native front yard. When I moved in, the front yard was all turf. With an incredible input of time and labor, I removed the turf and transformed my yard into a pollinator meadow and edible landscape. I have received many compliments from neighbors and passers-by. People love that I am creating a beautiful and valuable landscape, and they see it as a desirable change. However, some neighbors are still uneasy about the somewhat wild look of my yard, so I decided to make it official and become a certified wildlife sanctuary to lend credence to the status of my yard as a haven for wildlife, pollinators, and native plants. Now, I am pushing to amend the Tucker City Code to be more supportive of certified wildlife sanctuaries.
How would you describe your style?
My style is not easy to pin down. Here are some key words—edible, native, diverse, functional, intentional.
What is the one plant you can’t do without?
One of my favorite plants is the persimmon. Our native persimmon fruit is not available in stores, so it's a special treat to have this native tree in my yard. I also love that the persimmon bears fruit in the fall, past the time that most other plants are already done fruiting. The fruits are remarkably sweet and delicious and wildlife love them, too!
What plant gives you the most bang for the buck?
Blueberries! They're cheap, native, they have delicious fruit, and beautiful fall color.
Do you have a favorite trick?
I love picking up the free mulch from the DeKalb County landfill. It's made from yard trimmings that get picked up by the city, so sometimes you find bits of garbage that need to be picked out, but its worth it. Adding organic matter to the landscape is particularly important when you have degraded soil, so I love topping beds and surrounding trees with nutrient-laden mulch.
To learn how to have your yard certified as an Atlanta Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary, please visit our Wildlife Sanctuary page.
NEW YORK (October 10, 2019) – Today, the National Audubon Society announced a groundbreaking climate report, Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink. “Two-thirds of America’s birds are threatened with extinction from climate change, but keeping global temperatures down will help up to 76 percent of them. There’s hope in this report, but first, it’ll break your heart if you care about birds and what they tell us about the ecosystems we share with them. It’s a bird emergency,” said David Yarnold, (@david_yarnold), CEO and president of Audubon.
“A lot of people paid attention to last month’s report that North America has lost nearly a third of its birds. This new data pivots forward and imagines an even more frightening future,” Yarnold said. “And, you can use a first-of-its kind web tool to find threatened birds in your zip code, as well as a list of things everyone can do.”
Audubon scientists studied 604 North American bird species using 140 million bird records, including observational data from bird lovers and field biologists across the country.
Audubon’s zip code-based tool, the Birds and Climate Visualizer, helps users understand the impacts to birds where they live, making climate change even more local, immediate and, for tens of millions of bird fans, deeply personal.
“In Georgia, 23 percent, or 58 of Georgia’s 254 bird species are vulnerable to climate change according to this groundbreaking report,” says Adam Betuel, Director of Conservation for Atlanta Audubon. “Without substantial climate change mitigation, many common Georgia species like the Brown Thrasher, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Eastern Towhee, and many others could become uncommon or even extirpated in Georgia. It is critical that we take prompt, meaningful steps to reduce global warming so that these birds can remain part of our lives and landscapes.”
Eight Georgia birds were named species of high concern, including Red-headed Woodpecker, Fish Crow, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Nelson’s Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, and Yellow-throated Warbler. The five primary climate-related threats facing Georgia birds include sea level rise, urbanization, extreme spring heat, heavy rain, and false spring. To learn more about specific Georgia threats, visit http://audubon.org/climate/survivalbydegrees/state/us/ga.
“Birds are important indicator species, because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people too,” said Brooke Bateman, Ph.D., the senior climate scientist for the National Audubon Society. “When I was a child, my grandmother introduced me to the Common Loons that lived on the lake at my grandparent’s home in northern Wisconsin. Those loons are what drive my work today and I can’t imagine them leaving the U.S. entirely in summer but that’s what we’re facing if trends continue.”
Dr. Bateman and her team also studied climate-related impacts on birds across the lower 48 states, including sea level rise, Great Lakes level changes, urbanization, cropland expansion, drought, extreme spring heat, fire weather and heavy rain.
“We already know what we need to do to reduce global warming, and we already have a lot of the tools we need to take those steps. Now, what we need are more people committed to making sure those solutions are put into practice,” said Renee Stone, vice president of climate for the National Audubon Society. “Our elected officials at every level of government must hear from their constituents that this is a priority. Audubon is committed to protecting the places birds need now and in the future and taking action to address the root causes of climate change.”
Audubon has outlined five key steps:
Audubon’s report is based on the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report models for 1.5, 2.0 and 3.0 degrees C of global warming. At the highest warming scenario of 3.0 C, 305 bird species face three or more climate-related impacts.
Last month, Science published a study by a joint team of conservation biologists describing a grim picture: a steady decline of nearly three billion North American birds since 1970, primarily as a result of human activities. Climate change will further exacerbate the challenges birds are already facing from human activity.
In 2014, Audubon published its first Birds and Climate Change Report. The study showed that more than half of the bird species in North America could lose at least half of their current ranges by 2080 due to rising temperatures. Audubon’s new findings reflect an expanded and more precise data set, and indicate the dire situation for birds and the places they need will continue.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.
About Atlanta Audubon:
Atlanta Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive. We create bird-friendly communities through conservation, education, and community engagement. We are an independent chapter of National Audubon with our own board, staff, and membership. Learn more at www.AtlantaAudubon.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
By Dottie Head, Director of Membership and Communications
Atlanta Audubon has been making steady progress on reducing the number of bird-building collisions in the metro area and in educating the public, commercial building owners, architects, builders, and others about the problem of bird-building collisions. Thanks to the leadership of Adam Betuel, director of conservation, multiple success stores that are making Atlanta a safer place for migrating and resident birds.
Each year, an estimated 365 million to one billion birds perish in the U.S. after colliding with buildings. A recent study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology listed Atlanta as a high-risk city for the potential for bird-building related collisions. The Cornell study ranked metropolitan areas where, due to a combination of light pollution and geography, birds are at the greatest risk of becoming attracted to and disoriented by lights and crashing into buildings. Published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the study combined satellite data showing light pollution levels with weather radar measuring bird migration density. Chicago, Houston, and Dallas ranked one through three during both fall and spring migrations. Because many birds alter their migration routes between spring and fall, rankings of the most-dangerous cities change slightly with the season, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. During spring migration of birds pass through the central U.S., so cities primarily in the middle of the country top the most-dangerous list for that season. Fall bird migration tends to be intense along the heavily light-polluted Atlantic seaboard, which is why four eastern cities make the list in autumn. Atlanta ranks fourth most dangerous in the fall and ninth during spring migration
The first step towards solving the bird-building collision problem in Atlanta is understanding it. With that in mind, Atlanta Audubon launched Project Safe Flight Atlanta in fall 2015. Since then, volunteers with Atlanta Audubon Society’s Project Safe Flight Atlanta have been patrolling the streets during both spring and fall migrations, looking for birds that have been killed or injured after colliding with buildings. More than 1,400 birds, representing 106 different species, have been collected since monitoring began, and Adam is always seeking additional volunteers to help monitor routes during migration.
In 2017, Atlanta Audubon introduced the Lights Out Atlanta program to help mitigate bird-building collisions by encouraging commercial property owners and homeowners to turn off or reduce outdoor lighting during peak migration periods of March 15 through May 31 in spring and August 15 to November 15 in fall. Since then, more than 300 homeowners and 15 commercial properties have pledged to turn the lights out for migrating birds. You can help by signing the pledge and encouraging your friends, neighbors, and places of employment to join this effort.
Adam has also been working with Atlanta area green building experts to introduce them to bird-friendly design concepts. This November, Adam will be co-presenting a session on “Bird-friendly Design in the City in the Forest” at the GreenBuild International Conference and Expo at the World Congress Center. Adam will be co-presenting along with Christine Sheppard of the American Bird Conservancy and Matt Kikosicki of Miller Hull, an architectural firm focused on green design. They will be presenting on bird collisions, Project Safe Flight Atlanta's work, the new Kendeda Building at Georgia Tech, and how to design and retrofit bird-friendly buildings in urban areas. This is a great opportunity to share Atlanta Audubon's successes on an international scale.
Finally, Atlanta Audubon has been fortunate in recent years to make five buildings more bird-friendly thanks to generous grants from the Disney Conservation Fund. The Visitor's Center at Sawnee Mountain Preserve in Forsyth County and the Trees Atlanta Kendeda Center in Atlanta are the latest two buildings to be treated with CollidEscape film to reduce bird-building collisions. This brings the total list of treated buildings to five as the latest buildings join Melvin L. Newman Wetlands Center, Chattahoochee Nature Center, and the Blue Heron Nature Preserve. In 2020 Atlanta Audubon will install CollidEscape film at Southface and one other Atlanta location.
“Thanks to the collective efforts and cooperation of groups like Atlanta Audubon, the American Bird Conservancy, Southface, the Disney Conservation Fund, and many other partners, we are working to make Atlanta a more bird-friendly city for both migratory and resident birds,” says Adam Betuel. “There are hundreds of other light awareness programs and initiatives taking place across the United States and Canada, and collectively we are working to educate citizens, building owners, architects, builders, and others about innovative solutions and sustainable building design. We have a ways to go, but I’m hopeful that one day bird-friendly buildings will be the norm, not the exception.”