History of the Council of Ohio Audubon Chapters (COAC) 1969 – 2019
On January 25, 1969, twenty-five people met at the Aullwood Audubon Center to explore the possibility of forming a state-wide organization made up of Audubon chapters and affiliates in Ohio. The meeting was the result of discussions between John F. Gallagher, president of the Clark County Audubon Society, and John L. Franson, Central Midwest Regional Representative of the National Audubon Society.
Prior to this meeting, there had been no contact between Ohio’s Audubon groups. On occasions, members of different chapters might meet accidentally while on field trips to choice birding spots. Conversations on these occasions convinced Gallagher that something was needed to bring the groups together. His thoughts were expressed to John Franson and after several meetings between the two, the organizational meeting was called.
At the January, 1969, meeting, it was the unanimous opinion of those in attendance that a statewide organization was wanted and needed for numerous reasons, the most important being — to coordinate the thoughts and programs of the Audubon chapters and affiliates of Ohio, to speak in a common voice on important conservation issues, to act as a sounding board for various and common problems among Audubon chapters and affiliates, in some cases to consolidate efforts in field activities, to act as a liaison with the National Audubon Society and, to act as a center for the dissemination of information. A committee was appointed to work out organizational details and, after several meetings, the committee completed its work and a meeting of chapters and affiliates was called for June 7, 1969.
It was unanimously agreed at that meeting to officially form the state organization to be known as The Ohio Audubon Council. Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws were approved and officers elected. Those first officers were John F. Gallagher (Clarke County Audubon Society) president, Jack Minger (Canton Audubon Society) vice-president and, Stephen W. Kress (Columbus Audubon Society), secretary-treasurer.
The original Council was made up of seven chapters and five affiliates. The chapters were — Audubon Society of Ohio (Cincinnati), Clark County Audubon Society, Columbus Audubon Society, Elyria Audubon Society (now Black River Audubon Society) and, President R.B. Hayes Audubon Society (Fremont). The affiliates were — Canton Audubon Society, Cincinnati Bird Club, Cincinnati Nature Center, Forest Audubon Club (Steubenville) and, Cleveland Audubon Society. Canton and Cleveland are now chapters.
At the time the Council was formed, the total statewide Audubon membership was approximately 4,200. Today the Council has twenty-one chapters and two affiliates and the statewide Audubon membership is in excess of 22,000.