In December 2016, Madison Audubon received a volunteer interest form from a humble fellow named JD Arnston. JD wrote that he was interested in volunteering at our sanctuaries, or helping with citizen science projects, or maybe with some office work. Little did we know that in the space of just a year, JD would become one of the most dedicated and active volunteers in the entire organization, becoming a staple at Goose Pond Sanctuary and participating in just about every event Madison Audubon puts on!
JD kicked off his relationship with MAS with participating in the winter bluebird surveys for the citizen science program called Climate Watch. He partnered up with a more experienced birder, saying he wanted to learn the ropes. And did he learn! He then moved on to adopt and monitor a trail of songbird nest boxes in the Lapinski-Kitze Prairie at Goose Pond Sanctuary. JD signed up for work days, seed collecting, prairie planting, and he participated in the Madison and Poynette Christmas Bird Counts. He attends our Evenings with Audubon lectures, participated in the Wingspan Dedication, tagged monarchs, and rode his bike around Lake Monona with fellow bird nerds for Birds, Bikes, and Brews. In short, he does it all!
"I love birds. But working with MAS also gives me the chance to get out of the office and immersed in nature and our community," says JD about why he dedicates so much of his time and talents to Madison Audubon. "There are so many opportunities to not only take part in fun events, but also to learn about our incredible ecosystems of which our birds are a part of."
Because so much of his volunteer time is spent at Goose Pond Sanctuary, JD has become like a family member to resident managers Mark Martin and Sue Foote-Martin and land steward Maddie Dumas. "His hard work and eagerness to learn about restoration, birds, plants and everything in between are inspirational to staff and other volunteers alike," says the Goose Pond staff. "We are so excited to have JD as part of the Goose Pond team!"
"Through volunteering, I've also had the privilege of working with some of the most welcoming, knowledgeable, and dedicated individuals that make up Madison Audubon and its members," JD says. To say the feeling is mutual is an understatement.
On top of his full-time job and spending what seems like every extra minute counting birds, collecting seeds, or learning about the local environment, JD also completed the Wisconsin Master Naturalist course this past summer and recently returned from a trip to New Zealand where he continued to expand his curiosity and understanding of birds and their ecosystems.
Thank you, JD, for being an awesome person in your own right, as well as a keystone volunteer for Madison Audubon! We truly appreciate your time, talents, energy, and enthusiasm!
To learn how you can volunteer with Madison Audubon, visit our volunteer page.
Written by Brenna Marsicek, Director of Communications