Crowder-Messersmith Fund

The Fund honors Orville Crowder and Don and Sherry Messersmith, leaders in nature tourism, as a means to further global nature conservation. The Crowder-Messersmith Conservation Fund, together with the Audubon Naturalist Society, helps fund small, local conservation and education projects in developing countries by providing seed money to communities and individuals whose projects have not attracted major support from other sources.

Grants have provided more than 160 projects in over 55 countries with start-up costs since 1974. ANS has administered the Fund since 1999.

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ANS Crowder-Messersmith Fund Committee recently awarded four 2017 grants for conservation education to:

  • Promoting conservation of the endangered goliath frog and slippery frog through education in Dikome Balue municipality, Rumpi Hills, Cameroon.
  • Conservation education focused on the endangered Goliath Grouper for Belizean students and the local community.
  • Education of indigenous people near a priority site of the critically endangered Ecuadorian brown-headed spider monkey.
  • Building capacity of Cross River communities to protect the largest remaing rainforest in Nigeria from destruction due to a planned 6-lane highway.

Recent Recipients

The Timbaktu Collective in India received a grant to provide conservation education to the local impoverished communities in the Anatapur District of Andhra Pradesh. The Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) is severly threatened and many are found outside of protected areas. By providing "Wolf Walks" to approximately 2000 children ages 9-13, the Timbaktu Collective hopes to increase conservation knowledge and nature appreciation an rural communities.

A small group of dedicated Cape Verdians on Santiago received a grant for their project to rehabilitate, protect, and support eco-touristic use of beaches, lagoons, and the surrounding areas.  Many of the island beaches are used by the critically endangered Leatherback Turtle, and the lagoons are important refuges for migrating shorebirds of conservation concern.

The Raptor Working Group of Nature Kenya initiates local community monitoring of raptors.  In 2013 they proposed a novel sustainable funding scheme whereby the motor scooter they purchased to expand their reach would be rented to the volunteers and their families when not in use; those funds will provide income to keep the project going in the future.

A grant was awarded in support of the recovery and conservation of the Ethiopian Wolf, an Ethiopian endemic with a population of approximately 450. The project generated new knowledge on the status and ecology of an unstudied wolf population; developed and implemented innovative community–based wild life conservation; increased awareness of the wolf’s conservation needs by the local people; and developed community-based conservation education.

The Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment received a grant to protect the Himalayan alpine environment, and in particular the harvesting of the medicinal fungus Cordyceps. Local government officials who administer the area where Cordyceps are found required all collectors to attend the Crowder-Messersmith funded educational program. Post collection results indicate the collectors understood the need for a sustainable harvest and the need to remove trash from the sites. Due to the success of the program the Institute has been asked to repeat the workshop for other collectors. This was our first grant to an organization in Bhutan.

The Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation, Ecuador. As part of a larger project to survey birds in Ecuador’s dry forest coast, the Crowder Messersmith Conservation Fund provided funds for printing and distributing laminated bird identification cards to local youth groups, particularily in Tabuga, Camarones, and Jama. The cards were distributed to schools and businesses in the area and will serve as a resource for local naturalist guides.

The Foundation for Research and Sustainable Development in Madurai Tamil Nadu, India. Anandan studied fruit-eating and insectivorous bats, particularly the Salim Ali Fruit Bat (Latidens salimali) in the Western Ghats Mountains. The work involves conservation education programs for school students, indigenous communities, farmers, mountain people, and estate owners. The purpose of these programs is to convince these targeted groups of the necessity and methods for protecting the bats’ natural habitats (caves, large trees, temples, etc.).

Crowder-Messersmith Grantee Countries 1974 - 2018