The Future of ANS: Nature Needs All of Us

The Audubon Naturalist Society is committed to welcoming all people and
communities in the DC region to enjoy, learn about and protect nature with us.

With temperatures climbing, fires raging, and storms becoming more deadly, it’s clear we cannot address pressing environmental threats without engaging with all communities.

That’s why, after listening to the voices of our ANS community of members, volunteers, program participants, donors, our board and partners, we have decided to change our name to signal a new chapter that builds on the strengths of our past and moves forward toward a stronger, more inclusive future.

Three water quality monitors are posing for a photo while standing in a stream.
An ANS educator shows a small bird to a group of young children gathered around her.
Three women, one in a wheelchair, are strolling along the accessible trail at Woodend Nature Sanctuary.
A man is looking up into the trees at Woodend Nature Sanctuary.
Adult students in a Master Naturalist program inspect a plant alongside an ANS instructor.
Two panelists are pictured during a presentation at a recent Naturally Latinos conference
Camp Audubon youth sit on a mountain ledge overlooking a green landscape
Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali talks to the crowd at a recent Taking Nature Black conference
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Participants at an Adult field trip pose for a photo outdoors
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A group of birdwatchers look through binoculars and point to something out of frame
ANS Garden coordinator Jenny Brown poses with a group of students holding vegetables they grew in the garden.
A group of teenage campers walk through a wooded area.
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Bicyclists are riding on a nature trail during an ANS field trip
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Building on our strengths and moving
toward a more inclusive future

The mission and vision of the organization have not changed. The deliberate and thoughtful decision to change our name is part of our ongoing commitment to creating a larger and more diverse community of people who treasure the natural world and work to preserve it. It has become clear that this will never be fully possible with our current name.

We can acknowledge that the art of John James Audubon was a catalyst for bird conservation in our nation, and that the Audubon community has achieved much together over the past century. But we also know that names matter and can cause harm and stress to many members of our community.

Retaining the name Audubon without regard to the pain that John James Audubon inflicted on Black people and other people of color is a disservice to our community.

We will change our name to one that better reflects the growing, rich diversity of the region that we serve and sends a clear message now and in the future: Nature needs all of us. We need everyone at the table to combat climate change, protect clean water, preserve our precious green spaces and educate the next generation of nature stewards.

More than a name

We acknowledge that this is about more than what we call ourselves. We can and must do better to address equity and racial justice in everything we do. We are deeply invested in breaking down barriers and acknowledging our part in an exclusionary past.

In 2010, we began to reassess our policies and practices and found that aspects of our work did not fully realize our mission to serve all people and nature in the DC metro region. We recognized we need all nature lovers onboard to make real progress in protecting our precious environment. As a result, we spent the last decade investing in changes that get us to where we want to be.

During this time, we’ve updated our mission and vision and added programs to serve new audiences throughout the region. We overhauled our hiring practices to attract more racially diverse candidates and cultivated an organization-wide environment that is welcoming and inclusive. We prioritized ensuring that our leadership, including our Board of Directors, reflects the rich diversity of the region we serve.

We developed programming that lifts up the voices of Black and Brown environmental professionals and thought leaders, including our two signature conferences, Taking Nature Black (started in 2014) and Naturally Latinos (started in 2017). We also recently opened a wheelchair accessible nature trail at our headquarters at Woodend Nature Sanctuary.

Get involved

Our new name and brand identity will be decided after a deliberate and thoughtful process of listening and learning from the current ANS community as well as the nature lovers we aspire to partner with in the future.

The naming process will have four main phases:

1. Discovery
2. Insight
3. Creation
4. Execution

Members, staff, board members and community partners play an integral role in each phase. For example, during the Insight Phase we will conduct a broad survey on name components and name options. The survey will allow participants to provide feedback on the themes the name needs to convey as well as vote and provide feedback on various name options. Participants will also have an option to submit their own name recommendation.

Sign up to receive the latest updates on the name change process. Please direct all questions about the name change process to: NamingTheFuture@ANShome.org