By Kiana Leveritte, Wildlife Sanctuary Program Intern
Lou Clymore has breathed life into the Atlanta Audubon Audubon Society for more than 12 years as a volunteer certifier for the Wildlife Sanctuary program. After taking a Tree Keepers class with Trees Atlanta, she was introduced to the literary works of Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, and she found the passion to make a difference. She began birding in her back yard, and now Lou doubles as a master birder and gardener, and her fervor for bird-friendly spaces is apparent in the zeal and attention she brings to the seven acres of flora in her back yard. As a certified Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary caretaker herself, Lou brings the same intensity to her yard and its best interests as she does to those spaces she certifies.
In each property she certifies, Lou is a fountain of wisdom pouring out support and advice to the property owners. Some might even consider her an avid environmental educator for her community. Her crusade brings her into different parts of Atlanta's concrete jungle, and she always loves seeing the spectrum of creativity people bring to their yards.
This same spirit of creativity shows when walking through her back yard. Although the beech tree is her personal favorite, Lou’s yard is a Piedmont native wonderland. From the array of native shrubs like hearts-a-bustin’, beautyberry, serviceberry, and American holly to the tall bigleaf magnolia, her yard has many sights to see. She has a glorious pollinator garden, trees, and winding vines that bring persimmons, blackberries, and mulberries into her household when they yield. Like many wildlife sanctuaries, Lou’s yard is home to many birds and other small critters, including beavers. Eastern Phoebes, Blue Jays, and Swamp Sparrows sing in your ears while Red-tailed Hawks, Brown-headed Nuthatches, and Sandhill Cranes fly overhead. It truly is a sight to behold. Everywhere you look, you see her love for the environment: bird boxes, bird baths, ground cover, plant diversity, and minimal invasive species so that the space thrives.
In her 12 years as volunteer certifier, Lou Clymore’s love for birds and the native Piedmont flora shines in the way that she guides people in her certifications and her surrounding community. The advice she offers to those who take the same torch is simple: “Enjoy it. Take in the experience as a volunteer certifier. Make memories, and learn what works as you go.” She also encourages other certifiers not to stray from being inquisitive about the properties and to revisit for clarity if needed. Her last piece of advice is to remain organized and keep copies of all the paperwork used in case of mishaps or misunderstandings.
Lou Clymore, we thank you for all your hard work and dedication to your community and the Wildlife Sanctuary program for the Atlanta Audubon Society. Your efforts are a reminder to us all on what it means to create thriving, bird-friendly spaces in Atlanta and its surrounding areas while encouraging others to do the same.