Category Archives: Get Involved

loving our local outdoors in partnership with REI

UPDATE: REI Member Vote Grant

Great news! Mass Audubon received 34% of all votes in REI’s first-ever “Loving Our Local Outdoors” member vote grant in New England.

The Award

As a result, we will receive $15,500 to split between two projects.

  • On the South Coast of Massachusetts, we will build new trails at Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary to create an amazing eight-mile circuit trail that allows hikers to experience beautiful beach, grassland, and salt marsh habitat.
  • Just west of Boston, at Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick, we will repair and reroute nine miles of hiking trails that have eroded due to heavy use and flooding over the years, creating an improved visitor experience.

Both projects will include ADA-accessible trail additions and enhancements, such as observation platforms and a boardwalk, so that people of all abilities can get out and enjoy nature.

Here’s How it Worked

Between March 7 and April 9, 2019, REI members who made an in-store purchase were encouraged to vote for one of three local stewardship projects—Mass Audubon, Appalachian Mountain Club, or Save the Bay—via an in-store display. Participating stores included Boston, Cranston (RI), Framingham, Hingham, and Reading.

Our sincerest thanks to our supporters and to REI members for making this happen! And to REI for supporting our mission to connect even more people with nature.  

Make the World a Greener Place

On April 22, 1970, some 20 million Americans demanded clean air and water. Since then, the Environmental Protection Agency was formed, the Clean Air & Water Act passed, and the Endangered Species Act was implemented to protect our most vulnerable wildlife.

While much has improved over the last 49 years, we are still fighting for our planet. And Mass Audubon continues to be at the forefront by:

  • Protecting 38,000 acres of land across Massachusetts
  • Fighting for strong environmental policies on Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill
  • Teaching kids and adults about the importance of protecting nature for people and wildlife
  • Providing places for everyone to get out and enjoy nature

You can help us do so much more. In honor of Earth Day, make the world a greener place with a gift to Mass Audubon.

© Sarah Houle

Youth Are Calling. Are You Ready to Listen?

We have all heard, and perhaps even been on the receiving end of the “young and naïve” stereotypes. Young and carefree. Young and impressionable. Young and idealistic.  And while all of those adjectives might be accurate, they aren’t stopping youth around the world from calling into question the actions (or lack thereof) of previous generations to address climate change.

This wave of youth activism began last year when 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden began camping outside the Swedish parliament and accused lawmakers of failing to uphold their commitments to fight climate change. Greta and her cohort of activists are clear with their message- we want action and we want it now.

© Sarah Houle

The Voiceless Future

There are more young people in the world than ever before and their commitment to social and environmental justice cannot be ignored. Unlike previous generations, these people have grown up learning about climate change and its impacts, watching as most elected officials have failed to take aggressive action at the scale necessary.

Recently, a group of youth caught the media’s attention when they confronted Senator Diane Feinstein about the Green New Deal. In the Senator’s response, she offered them her pragmatic and perhaps even, realistic perspective: the Green New Deal is an ambitious plan that is unlikely to pass Congress. She also pointed out that the very people making this request were not the ones who voted for her–an accurate assessment since they were under 18 years old.

It begs the question…when you aren’t yet allowed to vote, how do you make your voice heard? How do you protect your future and safeguard yourselves against the greatest impacts of climate change?

Organizing for Climate Action

On March 15, youth around the world are walking out of school to participate in the Youth Strike 4 Climate. With over 1,000 events expected across almost 90 countries, the significance of this movement cannot be ignored.

These youth are coming together to say that they want to live their lives full of hope and excitement, not fear for their future. They are calling upon the world’s decision-makers’ to understand the crisis in front of us and commit to drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions immediately.

When it comes to climate change, the deniers–a small but vocal minority–get a lot of attention. However, these young people are telling us to forget the deniers and instead worry about the delayers.

They are the group of people most threatening their future, and there are far more delayers than there are deniers.  Without a doubt, the year 2080 looks bleak for these young people, but the year 2018 didn’t bring much comfort either.

No Matter Your Age–We Must Act

As inspiring as their leadership has been, leaving all of this up to our youth is just irresponsible. They have been forced to fill a void that we adults have left for far too long. It’s time that we each step up and make sure the youngest among us aren’t the only ones raising their voices.

Get engaged and support the young voices that are rising up. Here are just a few ways:

→ Make sure the youth in your community have all the tools they need to tackle this global challenge. That includes ensuring your school district is teaching Massachusetts Science, Technology, and Engineering Standards across K-12 curriculum.  

→ Call your Senator and Representative and tell them that you want bold and swift action on climate change now. Better yet, tell your State legislators that same message. Use the tools at your disposal that many of our youth currently lack–holding the people we voted for accountable to do their job.

→ Join the movement and fight alongside the youth themselves. Find a Youth4Climate Strike near you and support those students by helping to amplify their message.   

Snowy Owl © David Morris

Thank You To All The Nature Heroes

Snowy Owl © David Morris

Snowy Owl © David Morris

Today, at a Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuary near you, you helped to save something truly extraordinary. You did it last week, and the week before that. In fact, you did it every day this year.

And you are in the very best of company: your friends, neighbors, and 125,000 like-minded people all across the state are also taking action to protect the nature of Massachusetts.

On Giving Tuesday (November 27), we’ll share some stories about how your support is making a difference for wildlife, wild lands, and people. We hope you’ll be encouraged by what’s possible when we all work together and are inspired to make a gift to Mass Audubon.

Your donation will have double the impact thanks to two wonderful supporters who have pledged to match all donations made for Giving Tuesday dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,000!

Prefer not to wait until next Tuesday? Make your gift today! (And don’t worry — it will still count towards the match.)

We need you. Nature needs you. And now, more than ever, we all need nature.

Be a Nature Hero: Vote!

Ahead of the state and federal elections this fall, Mass Audubon wants elected officials to know that people who are interested in protecting the environment vote. Voting by interested and informed citizens strengthens the impact of Mass Audubon’s legislative advocacy.

Pledge to Vote

We believe that it’s important for Mass Audubon members’ voices to be heard in our elections. Most people just need a small nudge to remember to vote, so Mass Audubon and the Environmental Voter Project are working together to remind you to vote in each election. These simple reminders can dramatically increase someone’s likelihood of voting.

Take the Pledge >

Register to Vote

The voter registration deadline in Massachusetts for the 2018 mid-term election is October 17. You can register to vote, update your voter registration info, and check your registration status online via the Secretary of State’s website.

Already registered? Tell your friends and family to register as well!

Birdwatchers at dusk © Alan Nelson

Last Chance to Enter Your Photos!

A hummingbird in flight • birdwatchers at dusk • a sleepy porcupine •  a sandy mushroom

Hummingbird © Bernard Creswick

Grand Prize Winner © Bernard Creswick

These are just a few of the photos that entranced the judges last year—and they can’t wait to see want you have in store for this year’s contest.

If you have photographs taken in Massachusetts (or at Mass Audubon’s Wildwood camp in New Hampshire) that show off everything from wildlife to scenic landscapes to people enjoying the wonders of nature, we want to see them!

The contest is free and you can enter up to 10 photographs. But don’t wait—the deadline is September 30!

Enter the Contest >

Piping Plovers © Sandy Selesky

Protecting Endangered Species

Recently, the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) has come under unprecedented threat. More than two dozen pieces of legislation and policy proposals designed to weaken the law have surfaced. Mass Audubon has been advocating in support of upholding the ESA, which has been in place for 45 years.

Here are just three species that rely on the Endangered Species Act for protection and what Mass Audubon is doing to ensure that they remain in Massachusetts for generations to come.

Kemps Ridley

Rescuing a Kemps Ridley © Esther Horvath

Federal Status: Endangered

Most sea turtles are ectothermic, meaning that their body temperature is regulated by the temperature of the water around them. As winter approaches, the water temperature of Cape Cod Bay slowly drops, and sea turtles should make their way south to warmer tropical waters.

However, each year some juvenile turtles do not make the journey in time and become disoriented. By mid-November, the turtles are often too cold to eat, drink, or swim, and become “cold-stunned.” The turtles are often then pushed up onto the beach by strong winds, and left behind by the receding tide.

The smallest and most endangered sea turtle in the world, the Kemps Ridley is also the most common turtle to strand on bayside beaches each winter. Several hundred have stranded each winter on Cape Cod in recent years.

Since 1979, Wellfleet Bay staff and hundreds of volunteers have patrolled the beaches of Cape Cod, on the lookout for these cold-stunned turtles. Their efforts have resulted in the recovery of thousands of cold-stunned Kemps Ridleys over the past decade.

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee via Jill Utrup/USFWS

Federal Status: Threatened

As recently as 30 years ago, this bumblebee was commonly found in a variety of habitats including prairies, woodlands, marshes, and residential parks and gardens. Their drastic decline started in the mid-1990s, and today they are very rare. This important pollinator is the first bee species to ever be added to the federal endangered species list.

Mass Audubon is protecting and maintaining old field habitats and installing pollinator gardens to support these bees and many other pollinators that live in the Commonwealth. We’ve also supported proposed state legislation that would help improve pollinator health, along with pollinator-friendly land protection programs.

Piping Plovers

Piping Plovers © Sandy Selesky

Piping Plovers © Sandy Selesky

Federal Status: Threatened

The dynamic coastal habitats of Massachusetts are the perfect fit for determined sparrow-sized, sand-colored Piping Plovers. Likely widespread on our coasts historically, Piping Plovers suffered an extreme decline in the early 20th century.

Thanks to the protection of the state and federal agencies, supportive beach communities, and initiatives like Mass Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Program (CWP), the population has increased five-fold in Massachusetts since the mid-1980s.

CWP is dedicated to protecting coastal habitat for Piping Plovers and other shoreline-dependent birds. By erecting fencing to protect nesting areas, CWP ensures that Piping Plovers have the space to protect and raise their young. CWP also collects detailed data on nesting success and challenges in order to adapt beach management plans across the state.

By providing shorebird education and training opportunities to partners and students of conservation, CWP hopes to ensure the success of Piping Plovers and the enjoyment of our coastal habitats for generations to come.

How You Can Help

Contact your federal legislators and let them know you support the Endangered Species Act. Urge them to oppose any legislative attempts to weaken it that come before them for a vote.

Urge the federal government to continue protecting “threatened” species in the same way they protect endangered species. Waiting until a species becomes endangered increases the risk of extinction, as well as the level of effort and cost required to achieve species recovery. Submit comments >

Urge decision-makers to continue basing rare species protections on scientific data, not on potential economic impacts. Changing how these decisions are made could give corporations more leeway to develop protected habitats, and may make it easier for roads, pipelines, etc., including projects on public lands, to gain approvals despite impacts to endangered or threatened species. Submit comments >

Take 5: June 2018 Facebook Favorites

Over the course of the 2018 Photo Contest, we will be highlighting 5 photos from the previous month’s entries on Facebook and asking fans to select their favorite. This is just a fun way of sharing some of the amazing entries and doesn’t have to do with the official judging process.

You can pick your favorite by “liking” it on Facebook. Not a Facebook user? Let us know your top pick in the comments. And, there’s still time to enter the contest—the deadline is September 30!

Eastern-screech Owl © David Morris

© Diane Germani

Red-tailed Hawk © Joe Howell

Black-capped chickadee © Joel Sosa

© Shirley LeMay

Nighttime Fireflies JS Mcelvery

Fired Up About Fireflies

When it comes to summer rituals, watching fireflies light up the night sky has to be one of the most magical. For generations, these flying insects have been providing wondrous moments for people of all ages. Lately, though, scientists are curious if firefly populations are growing or shrinking. And in order to get those answers, they need your help.

fireflies at night

Enter Firefly Watch

This citizen science project asks people all across the country to report whether or not you see flashing fireflies. The Museum of Science in Boston launched this project 10 years ago. This year, Mass Audubon is carrying the torch (or should we say flash), and we have partnered up with the preeminent firefly researchers from Tufts University (shout out to Sara and Avalon!).

All you need to do is go outside after dark, take stock of your surroundings, and then set a timer. Each observation includes three 10-second time periods. If you see fireflies, sweet! Let us know approximately how many. Didn’t see any? That’s ok! We still want to know that too!

Get to Know Fireflies

The first thing to know about fireflies is that even though they’re often called lightening bugs, they are not a bug (nor are they a fly). Rather they are beetles that have this really cool ability to light up their lower abdomen (the bottom part of their body).

Some of them light up in a specific blinking pattern, like a secret code that they use to “talk” with other fireflies and to find mates. In North America, there are over 150 species. Flashing fireflies (note: not all fireflies flash) fall into three main groups of flashing fireflies: Photinus, Pyractomena, and Photuris.

On first glance, they aren’t easy to tell apart, but the different species have different flash patterns. Before heading out, check out this handy chart.

Get Involved

Ready to be a Firefly Watcher? You can head out on your own or join an upcoming program or event. Find a list of what’s planned, see a map of current observations, and submit your own sightings at massaudubon.org/fireflywatch.

Become a Certified Field Naturalist

Mass Audubon is launching a new, first-of-its-kind program in Massachusetts that will give you the skills and confidence to become a Field Naturalist!

During the 11-week Field Naturalist Certificate (FNC) Program, gain in-depth knowledge of organismal groups and how they are connected while taking part in field research, monitoring, and communication training. Mass Audubon Certified Field Naturalists will make a difference in their community through volunteer service projects that support our local natural resources.

Upon successful completion of the classes, fieldwork, and volunteering component, you will receive certification, signifying your expertise as a Field Naturalist.

Who Should Attend

This college-level course is geared to anyone looking to gain deeper knowledge of the natural world in a professional setting. Ideal for those who want to take a more active role in habitat management, educational programming, advocacy, and citizen science as a volunteer or for those that are beginning a career in the environmental field.

Course Dates

The certification program runs from August 29 to November 17, 2018, meeting Wednesday evenings (6:30-9:00 pm) at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester and every other Saturday (9:00 am-4:00 pm) at locations around Central Massachusetts.

Wednesday, August 29, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm Wednesday, October 10, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Wednesday, September 5, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm Wednesday, October 17, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Saturday, September 8, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm Saturday, October 20, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Wednesday, September 12, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm Wednesday, October 24, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Wednesday, September 19, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm Wednesday, November 7, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Saturday, September 22, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm Saturday, November 10, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Wednesday, September 26, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm Wednesday, November 14, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Wednesday, October 3, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm Saturday, November 17 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday, October 6, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

In addition to the course meetings, all participants are required to complete 40 hours of independent environmental stewardship/volunteer work.

Course Modules

Through lectures and hands-on field work participants will gain a comprehensive, integrated understanding of:

General ecology Mammals
Trees (dendrology) Fungi (mycology)
Plants (botany) Aquatic biology
Birds (ornithology) Climate and weather
Insects (entomology) Environmental interpretation
Amphibians and reptiles (herpetology)

Course Goals

  • Understand and be able to articulate the importance of sound ecological management principles, climate change resilience, and land protection
  • Sharpen your ability to advocate for the environment
  • Develop a sound base of knowledge of Central Massachusetts’ ecology and natural history
  • Learn field research techniques and methodologies
  • Gain the tools to continue learning about the environment on your own

Cost

$1,100 members and $1,300 nonmembers

Learn More & Register

For more information, email Martha Gach or reserve your space by registering online.