I object to this. I am a member of Birds Australia, Bird Observers, ACF,
Greenpeace, WWF, WA Naturalists Club, Kimberley Society, Western Banders,
AWSG, SOSSA, etc. The only group that I am ACTIVE in is Birds Australia.
Would you rather that I resign from all the other groups? Surely my
membership and donations are better than no support at all?
So don't get angry with members who do nothing. It is better that they are
a member than not at all. Accept these people for the limited support they
do give, and seek other new members. If you push these inactive members
harder then they will simply not renew their membership.
Birders come in all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. The secret of
orgnaising volunteer groups is not to push people beyond their abilities,
to let them know that the committee appreciate and value their
participation, and to ensure as far as possible that they enjoy taking part
in whatever conservation activities the club is pursuing. I have found that
most people, once involved in a program, develop a sense of owning the
project and make special efforts to see it through to completion . Whether
it is tree planting in the Capertee Valley for the Regent Honeyeater, or
surveying birds in the Bathurst area, the volunteer efforts in which I have
been directly involved, see the same group of people each time plus a wide
and varying selection of others who may come only a few times, but at least
they have come and even if they don't develop permanent involvement, the
message has got through and will carry through (hopefully) to their family
As Frank says, we need numbers as well as active conservationists. There is
a place for every type in a club; many people have heavy family
responsibilities, jobs that take them away from home frequently, other
interests in which they are involved in their free time, so cannot commit
themselves to frequent conservation involvement. Bird clubs play an
important role in widening public knowledge of everything that affects
birds, and members of small locals groups who are not large enough to take
on their own conservaiton projects, can always participate in projects runs
by larger clubs or Birds Australia. We (the NSW FOC) welcome anyone who
can afford the time (and money - travel and other expenses participants
meet themselves) who wants to take part, either once or continuing in these
Numbers are important when influencing local councils and government
authorities on decisions affecting bird habitats so every member has a
vital role to play. I can appreciate Irene Denton's comments on people who
say but don't commit, but that's just the way the world is. Nobody's
perfect. I've sat on many many committees, usually as the person who has to
carry out the decisions, and I used to shrink when often impractical
suggestions were made as I was the person who had to put them into
execution, and quite often they were suggestions that had already been
tried and failed but I still had to investigate and report back.
The good committee is the one in which every member has a job to do and
does it, and the good membership is people who pay their subscriptions
every year on time without having to be reminded, and turn up to meetings,
outings or conservation projects in sufficient numbers to keep the whole
Happy birding everyone.
Penny Drake-Brockman, Examination Recitals Co-ordinator, Sydney
Conservatorium of Music.
Tel: 02 9351 1254.
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