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About the East-side Branch

About the East-side Branch.

Extending Our Mission in the 21st Century

Leach woods - Tinsley Hunsdorfer
Portland Audubon Explorador campers walk through the woods at Leach Botanical Garden - Tinsley Hunsdorfer

The Leach-Audubon partnership is part of Portland Audubon's efforts to diversify and strengthen our organization, and effectively advance our conservation and education mission in the coming century. Through new collaborations and greater geographic accessibility, we hope to reach an increasingly diverse and public transit-dependent population, and to help inspire the next generation to love, protect and enjoy our region's unique nature heritage.

Leach Botanical Garden is an ideal location to do just that; it is both at the doorstep to the East Buttes natural areas and in close proximity to much of the region's future population growth and development. From the diverse, young and redeveloping communities of Lents, Gateway and Rockwood to the new urban communities of Springwater, Pleasant Valley and Damascus, the east metro area poses the greatest challenges and opportunities to manifesting an ecologically sustainable and socially equitable metropolitan region.

Read about Portland Audubon's work to improve access to nature in east Portland and west Gresham: Regreening Portland From The Ground Up

A Look Back

In 2011, Portland Audubon executive director Meryl Redisch took a look back at the East-side Branch's first year of operation - here's her report on its progress.

Portland Audubon’s East Portland Office Is Off To An Excellent New Year
by Meryl Redisch

Organizational capacity for our new East Portland office, located at Leach Botanical Garden got a huge boost with a generous three year grant from the Collins Foundation. With a strong nod of approval from the Trustees, Portland Audubon was awarded $85,000.

East Portland OPAL tour - Jim Labbe
East Portland OPAL tour - Jim Labbe

In July 2010, Portland Audubon opened a satellite office in collaboration with Portland Parks and Friends of Leach Botanical Garden. With welcoming community support, we began offering free programs including morning bird walks through the gardens and classes on backyard birds. With very little promotion, these programs attracted considerable interest.  With intentional marketing, Portland Audubon anticipates stronger interest and higher attendance.  To help us, we will be hiring an east Portland community coordinator to; build relationship with local leaders, track and survey audience participation and help establish a solid volunteer program.  This person will work closely with Audubon staff, particularly Urban Conservationist, Jim Labbe who works from the East Portland office four days a week.

The support from the Collins Foundation really helps Portland Audubon be better positioned to advance some of our organization’s most important goals for reaching and serving new populations and non traditional audiences.

East side residents will have greater opportunities to; learn about conservation issues impacting their neighborhoods, participate in family programs and be part of building a healthier community for people and native wildlife.  I am pleased to share with you some of the activities and goals we will be pursuing and welcome your ideas and help to reach them:

  • Develop new and build upon existing conservation education programs that are relevant for youth, adults and families and are accessible by public transportation. For example, using the Community Based Summer Camp program; Explorador as a template, we will partner with Rose CDC, another non –profit agency that houses and serves low income populations and offer a summer camp for kids and family excursion days the rest of the year. 
  • Recruit and build a cadre of volunteers who can comfortably conduct youth, adult and family programs. Volunteers who participated in a two day diversity workshop will assist staff in this effort.  As a way to help build civic and personal leadership, we are offering two full scholarships for the School of Birding Program to residents in east Portland.   This popular program requires graduates to provide at least twenty hours of volunteer service back to Audubon and scholarship recipients will be counted on to fulfill this obligation.
  • Increase funding for natural resource protection, restoration and access to nature in East Portland by serving on policy committees and collaborating with local agencies for shared outcomes. With funding from National Audubon and Toyota's Together Green program, we are currently partnering with the City of Gresham and Wilkes East Neighborhood to improve access and natural features at Nadaka Nature Park in West Gresham.


My hope is that our presence, programming goals and community engagement in east Portland can help address some equity issues in environmental policy, help diversify our staff, board and volunteer base and most importantly, advance our mission of “promoting the appreciation, understanding and protection of native birds, other wildlife and their habitats.

Sincere thanks to the Collins Foundation and all of you for your encouragement and loyal support.

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