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Promoting the enjoyment, study, and conservation of Wisconsin's birds.

WSO’s Quarterly Journal is in Jeopardy, Needs Volunteers

WSO’s Passenger Pigeon has been the best representation of WSO’s commitment to unite academic avian study with bird enthusiasts ready to assist in scientific research. Since 1939, the journal has been publishing research on Wisconsin’s birds and information on bird studies and sightings throughout the state. That history is longer and richer than the Atlas work that many of you value so much, but it has similar goals to support scientific efforts related to birds and bird conservation.

Our unique and valued journal is in jeopardy. It remains consistently three seasons behind schedule since 2019 without enough volunteers to help. We need more team members to ensure we can continue this high-quality journal that is important to the WSO’s mission and its commitment to support Wisconsin bird studies.

If you have some experience with journals, publications, editing, or simply managing work flow, please consider volunteering some of your time to help the WSO continue its strong connection to avian research and citizen science (records and seasonal field notes).

We need help with the following positions. You can volunteer for more than one position, and there will be some flexibility and adaptability in how these responsibilities are covered among volunteers. If you have interest and skills for even part of a position, please let us know what you would be willing to do. More detailed information follows this summary.

  • Issue Coordinator to manage articles, editing timing, and keeping the journal on schedule. Needs organization and communication skills.
  • Photo and Art Coordinator to manage photo and artwork submission, track down rare bird photos, obtain short author biographies and maintain an artwork library. Needs organization and communication skills with photo editing and evaluation skills as an added bonus.
  • Seasonal Field Report Compiler (Fall) to compile (using eBird and other information) and write a report on the bird sightings for the Fall season (August to November). Needs a keen interest in bird observation and connections to seasonal conditions, attention to detail, and a willingness to work with and organize data (or find a co-compiler with these skills).
  • Assistant Editor to manage and edit articles. This volunteer will review and summarize submitted articles for the Editor and edit regularly-scheduled articles. Needs editing (but not professional), grammar and critical thinking skills.
  • Peer Review and/or Science Editor(s) who can help check the science of the research articles and make sure they follow academic journal standards. Ideally one editor, but we are willing to be flexible working by issue or article. Needs scientific training and journal knowledge, but not necessarily avian related.

Each volunteer will be assigned a WSO email, keep journal submissions and drafts in the WSO Google drive, and use the Google calendar for the journal. If you are not familiar with the Google Workspace, training will be provided. Staff will be available to help as needed.

Here are the full position descriptions for what is needed. The Editor position is already filled, but we included a description so that you can understand the full work flow for the Passenger Pigeon.

Editor (Tim Hahn)

The Editor is responsible for producing and publishing the Passenger Pigeon journal on a quarterly basis. This volunteer ensures that the content and quality of the journal meets WSO and scientific standards and makes final editorial decisions about the content of the journal. The Editor coordinates other volunteers that assist with production of the journal and may choose to edit articles or assist in any part of journal production as needed.

The Editor takes care of the layout and printing of the journal. The Editor is expected to obtain and manage the contractors that cover these functions. The Editor works with the Executive Director and Treasurer on budget, contract, and expense matters.

Skills needed include leadership, organization, critical thinking, grammar and editing abilities. Knowledge of avian research (even amateur) and birding resources are valued.

Issue Coordinator

Working with the Editor, you will set the schedule for articles and follow up with all contributors and the Editor to ensure issues are completed on time.

Once an article is chosen for publication, you will keep the article on schedule by coordinating with the Editor and author follow up regarding changes, graphics, and anything else needed to ready the article for publication in a timely manner.

You will also maintain the schedule for regular articles that are in every issue, such as records, seasonal field notes, and the President’s column, as well as annual features such as the WSO annual meeting, annual reports, and index published in a single issue each year.

The skills needed for this position are organization and communication skills. You will have regular email correspondence that needs to be checked and responded to every 2-3 days. It is your duty to keep things moving and on schedule, so you need to be a clear, persistent, and forceful communicator (when needed). You will manage the Google calendar for the journal with the Editor.

Photo and Art Coordinator

The Passenger Pigeon contains 10-20 photos and/or illustrations for each issue, including the cover artwork. This volunteer will regularly remind WSO members and past contributors to submit photos and art for the journal. You will review the photos and art to make sure they follow artist guidelines and work with artists if changes are needed. Ideally, you would be able to do some photo editing also.

Photos are also needed for the seasonal field reports. This requires finding photographers and asking for photos of rare birds. Both the Badger Birder and Passenger Pigeon need and use these photos, so this will involve both current sightings and those from past seasons.

You will notify artists and photographers when artwork is chosen and follow up requesting to use their work and obtaining a short biography, which is published in the “About the Artists” section.

You will sort through photo and art submissions and make recommendations to the editor, but all submissions will be available on the Google Drive for review and the Editor makes final decisions.

The skills needed for this position are organization and communications skills. The primary duties are to obtain photos and artwork and make them available for use in issues. Evaluation and editing skills for photography and art would be an appreciated addition.

Seasonal Field Report Compiler (Fall)

The Fall Seasonal Field Report Compiler puts together the bird observation and weather/condition information from throughout the state for the fall season of August to November. It will begin with Fall 2022, compiling fall 2021 reports, but there will be some additional time before publication since two issues need to be finished ahead of Fall 2022.

This position is one of four field note writers and new compilers can take guidance from the other reports and compilers as long as they include the information that is traditional for fall sightings.

The skills needed for this position are a keen interest in bird observation, attention to details, and a willingness to work with and organize data. It will also help to have a good understanding of the eBird system. Much of the information needed will come from eBird and you will need to keep up with rare bird decisions and removals after review by the WSO Records Committee and eBird reviewers. You can also work as co-compilers to split the data and editing work.

Assistant Editor

The Assistant Editor will work with the Editor on article submission, selection and editing.

You will be responsible for soliciting articles through WSO publications, the website and direct contact with academics and researchers. You will need to understand the standards for articles and be able to answer some questions from potential authors. You will provide the first review and summarize all submitted articles for the Editor soon after submission. You will also notify authors on a timely basis about articles that are not selected.

You will review and edit some of the regular submissions to the journal, including Records, seasonal field reports, and regular columns by the President and Editor. You may also have other assignments as given by the Editor.

Skills needed include critical thinking, grammar and editing abilities and a working knowledge of both common and Latin bird names (or the ability to look them up according to standards). Also, a somewhat flexible schedule to accommodate last minute needs. Knowledge of avian research (even amateur) would be useful but not required.

Peer Review and/or Science Editor(s)

WSO needs assistance ensuring its journal is meeting scientific standards for its articles. Ideally, we would like to continue periodically publishing peer reviewed articles and seek someone who could manage that process properly and check the validity of the submissions. However, volunteers that could help review the science in articles and graphics would also be much appreciated.

The level of responsibility is flexible—we would prefer one editor but are willing to work with more limited scope reviewing an article once or twice a year.

The skills needed are academic science training, preferably at the graduate level, and an understanding of standards for scientific journals. Avian knowledge preferred but not required.