First Impressions

HenryIt’s been a little over a month since I started as the new president of Mass Audubon. During this time, I have had the opportunity to visit several wildlife sanctuaries, including Wellfleet Bay and Long Pasture on the Cape, Habitat in Belmont, and Worcester’s Broad Meadow Brook.

I’ve also met with more than 100 staff members as well as longstanding volunteers, donors, members, and our dedicated Board of Directors. Everyone has been welcoming, patient, upbeat, and extremely informative. In addition, I have discovered the people of Mass Audubon show great professionalism, focus, insight, and pride in their work.

I was pleased to see that my first impressions are right on target: this is a highly mission-driven organization. Our staff, volunteers, and Board  of Directors do not take Mass Audubon’s mission for granted. They go well beyond the “three legs of the stool” of conservation, advocacy, and education to integrate the parts of the mission in order to create exciting and dynamic synergies.

In just a short period of time, I’ve seen examples of this at places like Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, which has created a successful working farm and thriving business as part of a beautiful and ecologically significant landscape.

And at Wellfleet Bay, where sanctuary director Bob Prescott and his staff are doing cutting-edge research on—and actively protecting—rare species of sea turtles. By enhancing these wildlife sanctuaries, our staff and volunteers have created rich, fascinating, and complex teaching vehicles for the thousands of people who participate in our programs each year.

The next opportunity and challenge at Mass Audubon will be to increase other sources of funding that support a range of key mission priorities, including ecological management that anticipates and adapts to climate change, conservation science, increased scholarships to our camp programs, etc.

It’s very important that we not lose a step in the transition from Laura Johnson’s leadership to mine. And I am looking forward to the months and years ahead, when together we make Mass Audubon stronger than ever.

— Henry Tepper

7 thoughts on “First Impressions

  1. Vicki Ritterband

    Mass Audubon is in great hands. I’ve known Hank (sorry, growing up he was Hank!) for my entire life and his love of the outdoors was something bred into all of the Tepper kids by their parents. Nature walks, birding trips and beach rambles were a regular a feature of Tepper life and something they loved to share with the rest of us.

  2. Joe Zorzin

    Hillary, thanks for your reply. I think it’s going to be necessary for our society to decide on definition of “responsible siting….”. What appears to be happening is that little or no consideration is given to ecosystem values. We want low carbon emitting energy so we build solar “farms”- but if that land was once a living ecosystem and now it’s not- what is the value of what’s lost? This externailty must be counted- so I’m curious what Audubon’s definition is of “responsible siting….”?

    1. Nina Danforth

      We face the same questions in the Town of Weston as we search for possible locations for PV power to reduce our carbon footprint. Our old covered landfill has good flat solar space, but kestrel, woodcock, great horned owl and even bobolink activity has been reported there! I hope we can keep arrays on rooftops and parking lots only, but so much more power can come from a larger array than small town roofs allow.

      1. Joe Zorzin

        Nina, some very large solar “farms” have been built in our state- some in ares that could be claimed to be irresponsible siting, yet I’m not aware that these were oppossed by the major environmental groups, which is why I would like to know MA Audubon’s definition of “responsible siting”. It isn’t good enough to just use that phrase- it must be carefully defined, IMHO. The same holds true of wind “farms”.

  3. Joe Zorzin

    Henry, congratulations on your appointment as leader of Mass. Audubon. I have a concern regarding Audubon’s policies. I believe MA Audubon supports solar energy- however, some solar “farms” in Mass. are very large and put in places they shouldn’t be. I would hope that Audubon’s policy will distinguish between solar on roof tops and large solar “farms” on the landscape, in places that will disturb neighborhoods. I live in the town of Orange, MA. Behind my neighborhood is a 17.5 acre solar “farm”. That acreage was an exploited gravel pit- but much of it had returned to forest. The developers of this “farm” graded the entire site but did not return top soil. They left it as bare sand and installed many thousand solar panels on this bare sand. If you haven’t yet seen such a solar “farm”, I’ll be happy to take you for a walk around this site. Until you see something like this- you may have a false impression of the advantages of solar energy.

    1. Hillary

      Thanks for your comment. Mass Audubon strives to ensure that all of its policies reflect and support the organization’s mission of protecting the nature of Massachusetts for people and wildlife, which includes responsible siting and management of its solar panels. We’ll continue to take this thoughtful and science-based approach under Henry’s leadership.


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