Arizona and New Mexico are as geographically expansive as they are critical to birds and other wildlife. As such, it’s no surprise that we at Audubon Southwest, focused on securing wins for birds and the environment in our respective corners of the region, don’t get to connect in person as much as we would like. That’s why we get together yearly for an Audubon Southwest staff retreat.
This year, the team ventured to southeastern Arizona to gather on the Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch of the National Audubon Society, an 8,000-acre grassland and oak woodland sanctuary and one of Audubon Southwest’s three field offices and conservation action centers.
Greeted by Chihuahuan Meadowlarks, Loggerhead Shrikes, and other Audubon-priority birds, we dove into our ongoing strategic planning process, learned about each other’s work, and explored some recent on-the-ground conservation efforts that have taken place on the Research Ranch – we even had a surprise encounter with a recently-relocated Western Diamondback Rattlesnake when visiting one of the artificial rattlesnake overwintering sites installed by volunteers earlier this month!
We also made sure to take the time to pull away from the work and focus on strengthening our team. We shared home-cooked meals under the Sonoita Plain’s broad and starry skies, set aside dawn and dusk for some casual bird walks, and even let loose our inner children with a sustainable arts and crafts session.
Newly inspired by the collective energy of our team and by the birds and landscapes we seek to safeguard, we’re ready for the year of conservation action ahead!