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Name Change FAQs

Why is Jayhawk Audubon Society changing its name?

For our chapter, based in a city that was founded by abolitionists and which is home to Haskell Indian Nations University, keeping Audubon as our namesake is unacceptable. Our organization will be better served going forward with a name that does not present an obstacle to anyone in our community. We welcome everyone with an interest in birds and nature. Read more about our concerns about John James Audubon.

How will a name change impact your mission to help birds?

Our chapter's focus on birds, other wildlife and their habitats remains intact. We invite anyone who shares our goals to support our chapter and participate in our birding field trips and educational programs. We look forward to expanding our membership to include more people in our community who may have been reluctant in the past to participate in our organization. Broad support is needed to fulfill our mission and we hope this name change will result in positive outcomes rooted in inclusivity.  

How did National Audubon Society get its name?

In 1886, George Bird Grinnell (1849-1938), editor of Forest and Stream magazine, founded the
first Audubon Society in New York, formally called the Audubon Society for the Protection of
Birds.  This new organization was free to join and open to the public. 
The goal was to work
together to protect wild American non-game birds and their eggs.   

Grinnell named the organization after renowned bird artist and writer John James Audubon
(1785-1851) who Grinnell said did more to teach Americans about birds of their own land than
any other who ever lived. As a child Grinnell attended school taught by Audubon's widow, Lucy, at the Audubon family’s New York estate where he explored the land and learned about avifauna, experiences that would later inform and inspire his conservation work. Grinnell also called for the formation of branch societies. Ornithologist Florence Merriam Bailey founded the Smith College Audubon Society in Massachusetts that same year.  In 1887, the Audubon Society published The Audubon Magazine which featured a monthly John James Audubon bird portrait accompanied by Grinnell's description of the bird. The Society and the magazine generally ceased in 1889. The Audubon movement for bird protection was later renewed due to public outrage at plume hunters' slaughter of colonial nesting birds such as egrets for the millinery trade. In 1896, the Massachusetts Audubon Society was founded by Harriet Lawrence Hemenway and Minna B. Hall in response to birds being killed en masse for women's hats. Audubon groups quickly formed in other states to help conserve birds, including Bailey’s cofounding of the Audubon Society of the District of Columbia. In 1901, representatives of these independent societies gathered in New York City to form the National Committee of Audubon Societies of America. In 1905, the National Committee was incorporated in New York as the National Association of Audubon Societies for the Protection of Wild Birds and Animals, which eventually became the National Audubon Society in 1940.


National Audubon Society Records, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public

Merchant, Carolyn. Spare the Birds!: George Bird Grinnell and the First Audubon Society. Yale
University Press, 2016.


Why did National Audubon Society decide to keep its name?

National Audubon Society's March 2023 statement regarding keeping its name. 


Which other chapters have dropped the Audubon name?

New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Madison, Seattle and Portland. Seattle is Birds Connect Seattle. The others are still choosing new names. In addition, the labor representing Audubon employees, formerly called Audubon for All, is temporarily calling itself Bird Union until a new name can be selected.


Will this change our relationship with National Audubon?

No, at this time we plan to remain a chapter of National Audubon.


What is the history of Jayhawk Audubon Society?

JAS was founded in 1970 and became part of the National Audubon network in 1971. Our
chapter has been active throughout its 53-year-history. We currently have 400 members. Some of 
our members are enrolled through their membership in National Audubon, and some are chapter-only members.


Jayhawk Audubon is an all-volunteer organization. We do not have staff or office space. We are governed by a board of directors and we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible.


For more details on the organization, see our constitution and bylaws.


How long will it take to choose a new name?

The board appointed a name change committee to work out the details of selecting a new name.


  • July 14-28 — The committee will conduct an online survey to get ideas from members about potential names.

  • July 31 — The committee will meet to narrow the list of suggestions to 3-5 potential names.

  • August 10 — The full board will choose a name.

  • September - October — A contractor will be chosen to create a new logo. Work will begin on administrative matters required by the name change.

  • November — The new name, logo, and website will be announced!

How can I join?

Please visit our Join page.

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