Revegno Named Audubon President

Leigh Rovegno

The Audubon Community Nature Center welcomed its new president, Leigh Rovegno, earlier this summer. Having traveled from Denver, Rovegno brings with her a breadth of environmental experience befitting her new position.

“She fits the bill perfectly,” said Audubon Board President Pierre Chagnon. “She’s everything we were looking for.”

During her seven-year-long career at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Rovegno worked as a seasonal horticulturist and started an organic farm, something that had never been done at a botanical garden before. Her goal was to grow crops and also educate those who came to her place of work. Chagnon and the rest of the board felt her interests were a fit for Audubon, and the search committee unanimously approved her as president.

Seeking to impress, Rovegno had traveled to Audubon for an in-person interview instead of one over video chat as offered by the board. She would later move with her family to the area, so that she could begin her work as president July 23.

“I have always been very connected to the area,” Rovegno said.

Her career may have taken her two time zones away after she began her bachelor’s in horticulture at the University of New Hampshire and finished it at Naropa University with a focus in environmental studies in Boulder, Colorado, but Rovegno grew up in Rochester. Throughout her life, family would tell her stories of the surrounding nature of western New York.

“I’m just really excited to be here,” Rovegno said. “It just feels right; it’s such a great place that has such a rich history. (Audubon) really has made a name for itself.”

She became passionate about pursuing the position once she realized the Audubon’s mission of education and preservation of nature. She said she is inspired by the other staff members and hundreds of volunteers who have ideas for future programs.

Rovegno aims to establish more connections with the Jamestown community, partner with other organizations and focus more on health, especially “getting kids out into nature” and “teaching them how to play in nature.” She feels that children’s mental health can improve if they are encouraged to interact more in the outdoors.

Development and funding of the center will also be critical for the nonprofit. She brings funding experience from when she wrote a large grant to get her organic farm project moving.

Her time at Naropa University also applies to her current position as she said that school focused heavily on the human-nature connection Audubon also emphasizes.

From walking local trails to perusing spreadsheets, Rovegno has used her first few weeks at the center to introduce herself to the staff and the operations of the nature center.

Chagnon mentioned he was surprised to see Rovegno at a board meeting immediately after she had traveled across the country to settle in her new position. She also promptly helped with the search for water chestnut, an invasive species that has caused environmental problems in the past and has diminished significantly.

“This is a person who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves,” Chagnon said. “We’re delighted to have her here.”