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Post-NAOC member update on AFO and status of SFO

Kathryn Purcell

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Dear AFO Members,


AFO’s 2012 council meeting and annual business meeting were held at the North American Ornithological Conference (NAOC) in Vancouver in August. AFO is doing well, with a thriving journal, a healthy financial report, and stable membership for 2012. Scott Johnson stepped into the role of Past President, I was elected as President, and Reed Bowman was elected as Vice President. Lee Robinson, who has served as our Secretary since 2005, stepped down this year. Our new Secretary is Michael Lombardo. Greg Shriver remains as Treasurer, but we added two new Assistant Treasurers, Jeffery Buler and Brian Harrington to assist the Treasurer and oversee the AFO Banding Supplies Business (see below). Gary Ritchison continues as the editor of the Journal of Field Ornithology, and we have 15 active and engaged councilors as well.


The 2013 AFO meeting will occur at Archbold Biological Station in south-central Florida March 27-31. This is close to Florida’s peak migration period and well into the breeding season for many local and rare species, such as the Florida Scrub-Jay. Look for a full announcement on our web page and on the Ornithology Exchange web site very soon.

As you may know, AFO has been involved in the discussions for the proposed Society for Ornithology (SFO). At the NAOC, SFO was discussed in several venues. At our own AFO council meeting, we had our first real chance to discuss the plan in depth. We had a very lively discussion. Because SFO is not yet a formal entity, no vote was required by the AFO Council on whether or not to join SFO. If I were to summarize the council discussion, I would say that we remain very interested in all possible ways to strengthen Ornithology in North America, although much work remains to identify the best course of action in both the near- and far-term, be that the SFO model or something else. We were fairly unified in our desire to continue to be involved in the SFO discussions. We continue to request your input as we continue to consider the role of AFO in the future of ornithology. We assure you that no decisions will be made without a full vote of the membership.


The primary outcome of all the SFO discussions at the NAOC was that both the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) and the Cooper Ornithological Society (COS) passed resolutions creating three joint AOU/COS task forces to address mutual efforts in publications, meetings, and efficiency in other administrative functions performed by the societies. Other ornithological societies have been invited to appoint observers to these task forces and are encouraged to provide input.


The Publications Task Force will be chaired by Tom Martin and will have representatives from AOU and COS, and observers from AFO, the Society for Canadian Ornithology, and Wilson Ornithological Society. The main goal of this task force is to prepare a report for AOU and COS by 15 November that details publication options and provides recommendations for The Auk and The Condor. The publishing contracts for these two societies expire this year so this is a clear priority. They will also explore forming a joint publications office. AFO Council member Tom Gardali has agreed to serve on this task force.


The Efficiency Task Force will be chaired by Bonnie Bowen and will have representatives from AOU and COS. This committee will examine activities carried out by AOU and COS that could be carried out more efficiently in a joint manner. Our council member Andrea Townsend will serve as an observer to this committee.


The Meetings Task Force will explore opportunities to be more efficient with meetings, including planning future joint meetings and integrating travel, presentation, and research awards. This group will develop procedures for how these activities might be combined by 15 November. AFO has not yet identified an observer for this task force.


A separate group has been formed to revisit the Federation model, which was proposed at a meeting of ornithological society presidents in 2010. In this model, societies would maintain their individual identities and journals but work together to explore efficiencies, particularly in areas such as publishing and meeting planning. Council member Vickie McDonald has agreed to serve as the AFO representative on this committee.


The previous SFO committees have been disbanded; for now the fate of the SFO initiative is in the hands of these taskforces. Note that the society presidents are not serving on these task forces. This will allow us to focus on current and crucial society work. My focus as AFO president will be to continue working on strengthening AFO and making it the best possible society it can be. My priorities will include concentrating my efforts on stabilizing and hopefully growing AFO membership, further developing our Neotropical outreach initiative, and improving the AFO Banding Supplies Business. In case you are not aware of it, AFO sells high-quality mist nets and other banding supplies, proceeds of which go to support grants for students and Latin American ornithologists (see www.afonet.org/nbanding/index/html). And even better, AFO members receive a 10% discount!


Kathryn Purcell

AFO President

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