By Mary Korkor (WSO President)
When WSO’s Executive Committee met in mid-March to confront the mounting health crisis posed by COVID-19, we knew we had to make difficult decisions about your spring convention and field trips. We had to be concerned with the health and safety of our members, volunteers and the larger community. Here we are six months out and we are still making tough choices.
One of the most difficult back then was to cancel our field trips. We knew we were facing an unprecedented situation that called for drastic action. It was the right choice at the time. Since then we have learned more about how this virus is spread, how to protect ourselves and that we are going to be dealing with COVID for some time to come. So a new approach to living with the virus is required.
Happily, we are now ready to return to a modified field trip schedule with two trips this fall. We have relied upon the guidance of medical and government experts to help us craft this new protocol, which will require online registration and limit the number of participants to 20.
Due to the attendance limits, field trips will be open to members first, then later to non-members, if space permits. Please reference the online field trip registration available at https://wsobirds.org/what-we-do/field-trips to familiarize yourself with timelines for registration, the process involved, social distancing guidelines expected of participants, and our new waiver, which is intended to protect the membership, trip leaders and the organization itself.
As with any outdoor group activity, we encourage each participant to determine if it’s appropriate for them.
The first field trip will be a fall warbler walk in the Green Bay area on Sunday, Sept. 13. We also will hold our annual fall hawk watch along lake Michigan in southeast Wisconsin on Saturday, Oct. 3. Please note the change in dates from the original field trip calendar.
Details on specific meeting locations and times will be emailed to registered participants shortly before each trip.
WSO will not be conducting its annual Jaegerfest in Superior in 2020 but hopes to offer this event again in 2021.
We understand this will be a new and different way of operating, but we also know the value of getting outside, seeking out the birds we love and connecting with people who share our passion. We need to take care of the birds, but we need to take care of ourselves and each other.
Birding has kept my mind distracted and my spirit healthy these past few months. I have been able to walk away from the news and the confinement and find solace and beauty in the world. It is important that we protect and nurture the environment that hosts our birds. It is equally important that we allow that environment to care for us as well. Stay safe, take care of yourself and others and join us as we roll out our new field trip protocol.
For more information on safely participating in activities, visit these sites:
-- This is one of several timely articles in this month's Badger Birder newsletter; don't miss out on the latest birding and conservation news. Become a WSO member today! --