From the WHAS Board
At a special board meeting recently a majority of the board present voted unanimously to begin a process of investigation into a name change to the organization.
By consensus a committee has been appointed to begin this process and the end result will most likely be a name change that won’t include the name Audubon but will honor our founding as a National Audubon chapter in 1975.
The board took this action after more than a year’s discussion of the issue and the special two hour meeting held on February 11, ending with the resolution to seriously look into a name change.
The discussion has been ongoing since at least 2021 when National Audubon began in earnest to address JJ Audubon’s flawed character and slave-holding past. That discussion followed efforts to make Audubon more inviting to a new and more inclusive generation of Americans, and evolved into a national debate on whether to retain the Audubon name.
A decision on that discussion is expected to conclude soon. Similarly, Seattle Audubon decided last year to drop Audubon from that chapter’s name and is expected to announce a new name sometime in June. Several other chapters nationwide have also decided to change their names, and still others await the decision at the national level.
With all this in mind, and more, the WHAS board has decided to move forward but on our own terms. We acted with a nod to the future and our ability to gain new members and also to be more impactful. We noted that the organization was never primarily about Mr Audubon and his personal story but about birding and by changing the name we can move forward cleanly. We also believe this can be done without striking off JJ Audubon’s achievements in ornithology, but by carefully re-examining him, and his history, with solid and nuanced scholarship.
We counsel care at the national and state level of Audubon, to move with a transition plan in place if the name is changed; and for continuing cooperation with all current chapters, if not. We want to emphasize the legacy of respect that the Audubon Society has built in the US and around the world, the citizen science and the conservation efforts to protect all bird species and their habitats.
Again, WHAS has benefited from our relationship with the wider world of Audubon and so the board is most concerned about this issue of transition here in Washington state, where the statewide Audubon WA is so effective.
The board continues to be open to comments from you chapter members, get in contact through our Contact page. As of now, there is no timeline for action and any change will be the result of careful consideration and a continuing conversation with you.