With the new semester brings a new organization for avian enthusiasts at Allegheny.
This spring semester will be the first for the new Allegheny College Bird Club. The club was formed with the help of Benjamin Haywood, former assistant professor of environmental science and sustainability, upon meeting Joshua Heiser, ’23, while birding.
“The first weekend on campus right after orientation, I went birding up at Robertson (Athletic Complex) and I ran into Professor Haywood, who was walking his dog,” Heiser said. “It turned out he was teaching my environmental science class, so I was really excited that I had a bird professor because I have been interested in birds for a really long time.”
After conversing with Haywood about the possibility of a bird club, Heiser decided to pursue the creation of the club and received a great deal of support from students and faculty.
“I researched the process and went to Professor Haywood, and he started guiding me through it,” Heiser said. “I wrote a constitution and signed a petition and went through the whole process and got it started.”
As the founder of the club, Heiser serves as club president. The vice president is Will Harrod, ’21, who frequently does work with Tamarack Wildlife Rehab Center.
“When they were talking about board positions during the first meeting, I had already met (Heiser), and he was looking for (someone) to be a vice president, so I kind of stepped into that role,” Harrod said. “For the most part, it’s just planning a lot of the meetings with (Heiser).”
As president, Heiser oversees most club functions and plans the direction the club will go in. As vice president, Harrod assists with any work that needs to be done. The club is still in search of a secretary.
Now that the club is established, Heiser must redirect his attention from starting the club to running it. This includes holding meetings, planning events, coordinating supplies and setting up guest speaking events.
“Obviously, I think the main things that we will offer meetings and trips,” Heiser said. “I think we want to have bird identification stuff and help people learn more about birds. I think we want to have speakers come in, there’s a lot of places we can go bird watching and stuff like that.”
Additionally, Heiser hoped to affiliate the club with the Audubon Campus Chapter run by the National Audubon Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to avian preservation.
“What’s really cool about the program is that your club gets affiliated with the National Audubon Society, and you get funding to do conservation projects and stuff, so you’re sort of like an environmental advocacy group for birds,” Heiser said. “I think that’s something that I’d really like to see the club do, and that’s what we’re working on right now.”
As someone who works with Tamarack Wildlife Rehab Center regularly, Harrod noted the great educational opportunities the center could provide the club.
“Tamarack does a lot of programs with stuff like this, and I think it would be a really cool thing to get them to come to campus, and maybe have it as a way to bring people who hadn’t been exposed to birds before into this world,” Harrod said. “Raptors are really cool and very visually striking, and people love to see them. I think it could do a lot to bring new people into the movement if we had the raptors out there. People could interact with them.”
In regards to faculty, Haywood was intended to be the adviser for the club and worked with Heiser to form it. Haywood recently accepted an administrative position at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Ronald Mumme, professor of biology, is the new faculty adviser for the club.
“The club was already formed,” Heiser said. “We had already gotten approval of the student government so we were all set to go essentially. It didn’t really affect the forming. I think it definitely will affect us, and I think Dr. Haywood was really supportive of my progress. He had a lot of good ideas.”
Heiser noted that despite being hundreds of miles away from Meadville, Haywood has requested to be involved in the process and still remains on the clubs email list.
“Obviously, I was sad because I was expecting him to be part of it, but I don’t think it has a significant effect on our (future) success,” Heiser said.
The club will meet weekly at 6 p.m. on Mondays, in room 301/302 of the Henderson Campus Center.