Dear Survey Members and Friends,
Normally around this time of year we all would be getting together for the Survey’s annual meeting…an update on the organization’s programs, strategy, and finances, a vote for the directors, and an informative and inspiring talk. The speakers for the annual meeting are chosen because their outreach, conservation, and science work embodies the same collaborative, interdisciplinary, hands-on character that is the hallmark of the Natural History Survey’s activities. In recent years we’ve heard about the history and future of Rhode Island habitat conservation from Rick Enser, Lou Perrotti’s struggles to save the last timber rattlers in the northeast, ongoing research into coyote ecology with Numi Mitchell, and member Noel Rowe’s new book, All the World’s Primates.
This month we were looking forward to a program all about birds, featuring a talk by eminent ornithologist Shaibal Mitra and the presentation of Distinguished Naturalist Awards to three accomplished birders who made invaluable contributions to research and introduced hundreds if not thousands of Rhode Islanders to the joys of birding and through birds the joy of Nature and its study. They are Dick Ferren, Rey Larsen, and, posthumously, Mary Jo Murray. The current coronavirus emergency means we can’t do that now, but don’t worry we’re definitely going to put on this night of birds later, when it’s safe to do so.
We are continuing to think about the potential disruption of BioBlitz 2020, scheduled for June 12 and 13 in Cumberland, by the coronavirus. Things are changing so rapidly it is hard to know what will and won’t be possible in 6 weeks’ time. It is quite likely we will have to postpone the event but stay tuned. Regardless, I can guarantee we will have some manner of bioblitz at Mercy Woods Preserve in Cumberland this field season. Use this time to brush up your ID skills, learn to use that new key to the crane flies of New England, or finally finish with the stuffed-to-overflowing plant press from LAST summer. And we’ll see you in Cumberland when the time is right.
I’m sorry we can’t all share an evening together over a subject we love, but there is still the legal obligation…and the duty…for the Survey’s leadership to report to you, the members, who are the real “corpus” of this corporation, on its financial health and strategic situation. I am, therefore, conveying to you an annual report that we assembled. I hope it helps you see that your investment in the Survey has helped build a successful, 25-year old non-profit that is advancing community-based conservation science in Rhode Island every day. We also need the vote of the membership on directors for the next 12 months, and so we are going to organize a proxy ballot in the next few weeks and send it out to you via email (or if you don’t have email, via regular mail). Look for it and please take a moment to return your vote.
Although we can’t meet in person right now, we are still interested in hearing from you. What more can the Survey do? Contact a staff or board member and tell us what YOU see as the stumbling blocks to better research, education, and conservation- call, write, or email. When the weather turns a little more predictable, maybe we can meet in a big field and do some natural history together again (with a sampling interval of six feet, of course). See you out there!
David W. Gregg, Ph.D., Executive Director