The Conducting of Audubon Societies
It is one thing to organize a society or club and quite another to set it upon a permanent footing and keep it in step with the constant requirements of progression. At a time when a great majority look askance at the startling array of societies that they are asked to ‘join,’ it behooves all Bird Protective bodies to conduct themselves with extreme conservatism, that they may not bear the stigma of being called emotional ‘fads,’ but really appeal to those whom they seek to interest.
Many men (and women also) have many minds, and a form of appeal that will attract one will repel another. It is upon the tactful management of these appeals and the bringing of the subject vitally home to different classes and ages, that the life of the Audubon Societies depends.
Leaflets have their influence with those who already care enough to take the trouble to read them. Special exercises in schools have a potent influence for good. But the best method of spreading the gospel of humanity, is that by which it was first spread 1900 centuries ago, by personal contact and the power of the human voice. A few spoken words are worth a score of printed ones. A compelling personality is worth a well of ink in this Bird Crusade of 1899. Let the heads of societies come in contact with the members as much as possible, and gather them in local circles. Let those who are able to speak about birds do so, and let those who lack the gift of words read aloud from the works of others.
Whenever possible, urge local secretaries to hold bird classes during spring and summer in their respective towns. If no one person knows enough to teach the others let them club together, buy a few books, and, going out of doors, work out the problems of identification as best they may, until every little village has a nature study class working its way, Chautauqua-Circle fashion. Remember one point, please. No society can succeed that is content to count the quantity rather than quality of its members. One hundred intelligent members who know how to spread the why and how of the crusade are worth 10,000 who have merely ‘joined’ because some one they were proud of knowing asked them to and it was easier to say ‘yes’ than ‘no,’ especially as
the saying was all it cost. Also, no society succeeds that bores people into joining it. Remember that no matter how near one′s own heart a project may be, we have no right to force it upon others. We have no right to take people by the throat, so to speak, to make them pause and listen, but setting a high standard, holding out a helping hand and making the way attractive to those who wish to reach it is a different thing, and is the only sane policy under which Audubon Societies can be conducted. One word to you who wish to see the societies flourish, who love birds, but are shy and retiring, and do not care to commit yourselves to joining anything. You may safely join the cause in spirit by sending a nice little check to the treasurer of your local state society. Piers Plowman discovered long ago that he couldn't “spede” far without money, neither can the Audubon Societies.—M. O. W.