Monday, October 4, 2010

New Day at ABA

From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes: Readers of this blog will know that I’ve been very preoccupied for the last three months by the current situation at the American Birding Association. (In fact, I’ve been so preoccupied that the blog hasn’t been updated since the end of August.)

In early July, I was asked to be on the search committee for a new president / executive director for the ABA. This fine organization had just gone through some tough times, owing to a few bad decisions and a lot of bad luck. The previous president had been fired, the staff was upset about a variety of issues, membership had been declining, and the financial situation was going from bad to worse. Things were looking shaky for the ABA. But because this organization had done so much for me in the past, I agreed to try to help.

It has been a time-consuming and complicated process, as you might guess if you read the previous entries on this subject. But ultimately we had over a dozen serious applicants for the position, and four finalists who were all eminently qualified. At that point things got really difficult, because all four of the finalists were friends of mine, people I had known and respected for a long time. But after extensive interviews and discussions, the search committee came up with recommendations, and the ABA board of directors voted at the end of last week. As of today, they’re ready to announce the decision, and it’s just going up on the ABA website.

Ladies and gentlemen: Mr. Jeffrey A. Gordon, currently of Lewes, Delaware, soon to be in Colorado Springs at the ABA offices. I first met Jeff in the early 1990s, when he was a young naturalist and tour leader new on the scene, and we worked together teaching some intensive bird I.D. workshops set up through Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. A couple of years later, Jeff and I took a group of teenaged birders to Mexico, on the VENT / ABA sponsored Camp Cielo. Whether we were scoping sandpipers on the Texas coast or pursuing parrots in Mexican mountain forests, Jeff displayed a remarkable set of skills as a birder, organizer, teacher, and leader, and he had such a warm and engaging personality that everyone was drawn to him. I figured at the time that he was destined for great things.

In the years since, Jeff Gordon has become a popular speaker on the bird festival circuit, has written a very popular blog, has written many articles for Bird Watcher’s Digest and other publications, has been a major consultant to the Peterson Field Guide Series, has done innovative things with ecotourism and with new media such as podcasts and video, and has generally established himself as one of the leaders of the birding community in North America. And now he’s going to be the President of the American Birding Association. For more information you can go to the ABA’s website.

Congratulations, Jeff, and thanks to all of the fine people who helped with this process! There are still challenges to be met, but I'm confident that the birders will rally and that Jeff Gordon will lead ABA into a bright future.