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About GOAS > History

A Short History of Organized Birding in the Springfield Area

Although a Springfield Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was conducted in 1947, there was no known organized birding in this area until Burroughs Audubon Society charter members Nathan and Christine Fay moved to Ozark, Missouri in 1956. In 1957, the Fays began compiling the annual Springfield CBC. Our records indicate that the Fays were part of a group that began meeting about 1936 for one weekend each fall for the fun of birding, which led to the Audubon Society of Missouri annual fall meetings.

Margaret Weber and the Fays were responsible for organizing the Springfield Audubon Club in 1962, subsequently renamed the Audubon Club of Springfield (ACS). Nine people responding to a notice placed by Margaret Weber in the Springfield newspaper met at Lake Springfield to organize a study group around weekly field trips and occasional programs to enhance their common interest in birding. The charter members of ACS were: Mary and Leonard Confer, Cora and Lewis Crowder, Christine and Nathan Fay, Clyde Johnson, Fern Shumate, and Margaret Weber. Between 1962 and 1980, activities of ACS included sale of birdseed, affiliation with ASM and hosting a spring meeting, publishing the first Checklist of Birds of the Springfield Area, scholarships for SMSU wildlife management students, and permanent records of bird data being archived.

In 1977, Greater Ozarks Audubon Society (GOAS), a chapter of the National Audubon Society (NAS) was chartered on the SMSU campus. Within two years, the chapter was inactive. In 1980, ACS members voted to affiliate with NAS, reactivating GOAS. During the 1980s, GOAS expanded activities and projects, which included, hosting the Audubon Ark, cosponsoring an address by U.S. Senator John Danforth, hosting NAS President, Russell Peterson, conducting the first Birdathon, publishing the Checklist of the Birds for Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, development of educational slide programs, a Barn Owl reintroduction project with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), a bluebird nest box monitoring trail, sponsorship of Audubon Adventures, and Earth Day projects. The Fays were presented the first GOAS Meritorious Service Award, and Reuel Broyles, responsible for building numerous bluebird nest boxes, received the first GOAS Conservation Award.

In the 1990s, GOAS continued to build on projects started in the 1980s. GOAS adopted a street section for litter removal, a bird seed sale became an annual fund raiser, the Woodrow Holloway Memorial Nature Sound System was dedicated to the Springfield Conservation Nature Center, and a chapter audio-visual lending library was established. GOAS hosted the NAS West Central Regional Conference in 1997, at which Becky Matthews received the NAS William Dutcher Award. The South Creek Habitat Restoration project was established, the GOAS Stream Team, a second bluebird nest box monitoring trail, a logo patch, outreach projects, and a mission statement were developed as the millennium closed.

In the 21st century, Greater Ozarks Audubon is still very much a birding-based organization. Our interest in birds leads us to protect bird and wildlife habitats. By promoting birding, we foster an interest in nature and the environment, educating others about the interdependency of all species, and the need to preserve biodiversity for the benefit of all creatures.

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