Every serious birder knows that if you’re looking for something special, it’s a good idea to find a mixed flock. Even on days when it seems like nothing is moving, a single mixed flock can be a game changer. I experienced this firsthand a few days ago when I made my way to Bear Creek Pioneers Park to do some casual weekend birding.
This year, Houston Audubon had a mixed flock of it’s own move through. This one, however, wasn’t composed of birds. Rather, it was made up of fifteen young professionals who together formed the Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC). From an associate at a private equity firm to a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine to a natural resources specialist from Houston Arboretum, this group of 20 and 30-somethings contained a rich diversity of interests and skillsets.
We coordinated bird walks and park clean-ups across the city, helping raise awareness for conservation and environmentalism. We teamed up with Bakfish Brewing Company to create PALEican, a custom bird-themed beer available in Houston-area bars and restaurants. We curated innovative programs such as Birds, Health, and the Human Spirit, which brought Houston Audubon’s message to new audiences. We formed teams for the annual Bird-a-thon, raising some serious cash. And we even assisted in working with the mayor’s office to designate the Official Bird of Houston, the Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron!
The immediate impact was obvious, but through it all we also formed lasting friendships and new partnerships that will positively impact Houston’s culture of conservation well into the future.
By Stuart Nelson, 2020 Chair, Houston Audubon\’s Young Professionals Advisory Council