As step one in updating our education master plan at Audubon we have been asking a lot of people for input. We want to know how Audubon is perceived in the community. What do people think we do well? Where we can improve? What do they see doing us in the future? Some of the answers have not surprised us at all, while others have been somewhat eye-opening and are helping us to think in new ways about where we might want to take this organization.
Responses that have amused and baffled me are suggestions to do things that we are already doing. ''You know that fishing pond you have down there?'' asked one of the students in a fourth-grade students focus group at Fenner Elementary School. ''Yes,'' I responded. ''You should have a guide so the kids can see what kind of fish they caught,'' she explained. ''Great idea,'' I told her, and made a mental note to see if someone has absconded with the guide that usually sits right next to the fishing pond.
Another frequent category of suggestions has to do with increasing our electronic presence on the Internet. This one really surprises me, because we have made a rather intensive effort of making sure we are ''out there.'' If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to take a look. Start with our website at www.jamestownaudubon.org where we try to put anything and everything we think a visitor might want to know about Audubon. I'm sure we've missed something, so be sure to use the ''Contact Us'' page to let us know what we should add. As you explore, you will find that there are spin-off sites for programs and projects that need more space. For example, our events coordinator is currently updating the Snowflake Festival site for 2012, and the education department is getting ready to update the Day Camp site. Our programs site has detailed information about all of our public offerings, including online registration for some of them.
Families of our day camp kids enjoy seeing photographs of our activities on our Flickr site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamestownaudubon.
Our main website has a blog section. Blog is short for weblog. This is where we post all of our feature articles, such as the one you are reading, news releases and other announcements. There is a link in the sidebar allowing you to subscribe to the blog posts so they will be delivered to your email address. Also, each time a new article is posted to the blog a link to it is also sent as a ''tweet'' via Twitter (follow @JamestownAudubon), and posted as a link on our Facebook page (log into your Facebook account and then go to facebook.com/JamestownNYAudubon to ''like'' our page).
''Have you ever thought of doing an electronic newsletter?'' asks a member of a volunteer focus group. As a matter of fact, our regular ''print'' newsletter is available as a PDF (portable document file) that you can download from our website. In addition, we send out a monthly list of activities, as well as occasional reminders of upcoming events and opportunities through an email service to which you can subscribe from a link in the sidebar of our main website.
The most frequent visitors to our Flickr account (www.flickr.com/photos/jamestownaudubon) are probably the parents and grandparents of the kids who come to Day Camp. We also post pictures of workshops and events as well as wildlife, flowers, landscapes, gardens, and trails. (Isn't it weird how Flickr has no ''e?'')
''Some websites have donate buttons. I think we should do that!'' exclaims an excited supporter of Audubon. Um ... yes. We already thought of that, too. But we'd love to hear from you about more things you think we haven't thought of yet, so please - drop us a line. Electronically, on paper or in person - we'd love to hear from you.
While our address is Jamestown, N.Y., the Audubon Center and Sanctuary is actually located in the town of Kiantone at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62. Trails and Liberty viewing are open from dawn to dusk. The center is open Mondays and Saturdays from 10 to 4:30 and Sundays from 1 to 4:30. You can find us by clicking over to a Google map from the ''Visit Us'' page on our website at www.jamestownaudubon.org.
Jennifer Schlick is program director at Audubon and might be a little bit Internet-obsessed.