At the May meeting, FAS will elect the President, Vice-President, and several Director positions. Nominees (with biographies) for these positions are:
President —Gael Bissell : Four years ago, when Kay Mitchell was selected as President, Flathead Audubon was a very productive Chapter delivering outstanding monthly public programming, field trips, and newsletters; overseeing our Conservation/Education Program; managing the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area; building a new website; helping with Christmas Bird Counts, and raising the funding required by these activities. Since that time and under Kay’s sound and effective leadership, we have not only improved and expanded many of these programs, we have also significantly added many new endeavors. We now manage annual Jewel Basin Hawk Watch in conjunction with the Flathead National Forest and many partners; we reorganized Raptor Day into the wildly popular Birds of Prey Festival each fall; we also raised $10,000 for the new West Valley Ponds Viewing Area and we created our “Ambassadors” program to help with our student and senior outreach and education.
Building on our successes and with Denny Olson’s help as our “new” Conservation Educator, we want to expand our educational efforts to give many of our elementary kids opportunities to get out into the “field” using both our new Outdoor Classroom at Owen Sowerwine Natural Area and the new West Valley Bird Viewing Area. I am optimistic that with many partners such as Flathead Land Trust and the school districts, help from our members (especially retired science teachers) and the community, Flathead Audubon will take our Conservation Education Program to the next level, hook our kids on birds and habitat, and really begin to make a difference in how our youth appreciate and understand the natural world.
As President, I would use my experience of 30+ years at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks where I worked with a diversity of partners to conserve habitat and my years of work with various non-profits to help our Chapter make this new effort both successful and effective. I believe it will be important to maintain our core programs while we make this transition; it will be important to let more folks in the community know what it is we do, to become aware of our efforts, and join in our projects. It will be important for Flathead Audubon to also begin to secure a strong financial base so that we can sustain our programs.
Our past presidents and boards have built this Chapter into a cohesive, visionary, effective, and inclusive Chapter and I hope I can fill Kay’s big shoes during my term and help our Chapter move forward.
Vice-President —Cory Davis : Cory Davis grew up in northern California at the base of Mt. Diablo and moved to the Flathead Valley in 2003. Although he grew up spending summers on the road camping with his parents who were schoolteachers, he did not become a bird nerd until getting his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at UC Santa Barbara and working at the campus Vertebrate Museum. After graduation, Cory went on to live the life of an itinerant field ornithologist working jobs in the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon, Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, the sky islands of southeastern Arizona, Alaska’s interior, and Belize. He finally got tired of living out of his car and went on to get an M.S. degree in Biology from Arkansas State University where he studied the effects of forest fragmentation on songbirds around McCall, Idaho. He also spent four years in a PhD program at Montana State University researching the effects of land use change on national parks, though that degree still eludes him.
In his current position as a Research Associate in the University of Montana’s W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, Cory coordinates a group of partners from NGOs, local agencies, and private citizens that work closely with the Forest Service to implement forest restoration on several local National Forests. He coordinates a monitoring program looking at the effects on wildlife, vegetation, aquatic systems, and socioeconomic conditions resulting from Forest Service management actions. He also works with local school groups and community members to help monitor forest conditions and water quality. He currently resides in Whitefish, with his partner Michelle and her daughter Lucy, where he enjoys cross-country skiing, mountain biking, playing pickleball, and brewing beer to share with friends.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Margaret Parodi: I have a Master’s degree in Geology from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton and worked as a professional geologist in the oil and minerals industries for 7 years. I then ran my own geological and geophysical consulting firm (with my husband) in the North Idaho region for 15 plus years. I am now employed part time for an artist in Bigfork doing framing, shipping, and sales work.
Will Beyer: I am a semi-retired overseas maintenance, mechanic contractor and licensed Montana water well contractor. I moved to Montana in 1975 where I attended the University of Montana, and the Missoula VoTec. This brief education propelled me from the hay fields of the Missoula Valley and White Sulfur Springs to Tioga, North Dakota, and finally Kalispell, Montana, in 1982. Since 1999 I have
worked in some far-away places such as the South Pole, the glacial summit of Greenland and points in between. Some of my life achievements are hand crafting a log cabin and building a bridge across the Swan River near Condon, Montana. I love the outdoors, hiking, cc skiing, fishing, hunting, bird watching, floating rivers and forest management. I have been casually involved in Audubon since the 1990s.
Dave Manuwal: I have studied birds in the western US for over 60 years. I received an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a Master’s degree working with Dick Taber at the University of Montana in 1968. Then I received a PhD studying marine birds at UCLA in 1972. I taught and conducted bird research for 41 years at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, retiring in 2013 as Emeritus Professor of Wildlife Science. Currently, I am an affiliate professor at UM where I recently resurveyed his bird plots at Lubrecht Experimental Forest from 40 years earlier! I now reside in Kalispell with my wife Naomi.