From Naturalists to Environmentalists

A story by Andy Beahm from 2023

Andy Beahm
Executive Director
Maine Audubon

Conservation combined with education and advocacy has been a constant throughout the history of Maine Audubon and its founding organizations—the Portland Society of Natural History (1843) and the Maine Audubon Society (1902). From general knowledge and the cataloging and collecting of species from around the world in the early 19th century, the study of natural sciences has evolved from observation to action, and the same can be said for Maine Audubon.

At its inception, the PNHS invited people into the museum to engage with its collection which included stuffed birds, mounted fish, Rocky Mountain elk horns, and a first edition of Audubon’s Birds of America, and loaned objects to Maine educational institutions. Founded in 1902 for the purpose of preventing the extinction of bird species due to the millinery trade, the Maine Audubon Society aimed both to discourage the destruction of birds and to encourage an interest in birds and the study of natural history.

As the 20th century brought new changes both to the organizations and the world at large, the two groups eventually merged. When the ground swelling of an environmental movement began in the 1970s, Maine Audubon was poised to lead the charge, getting a landmark bottle bill passed, fighting against the pesticide DDT, and much more. The science-based conservation and action which we are known for today
was launched.

For the past fifty years, Maine Audubon has continued to focus on awareness combined with action—educating future generations of environmental caretakers, advocating for public policies on state and national levels, and engaging with community scientists, government officials, partner organizations, landowners, and countless other constituencies on conservation initiatives around wildlife and wildlife habitat in Maine. Collections and natural history observations now serve not just as tools for education, but also provide data for research that underpins our conservation and legislative work.

Friendly URL: