At Grange Insurance Audubon Center in Columbus, several dozen chapter leaders, environmental advocates, and officials met for the first Ohio Conservation Conference in October 2015.jan16conservation

Marnie Urso, senior program manager for Audubon in Ohio, says the event re-energized attendees and strengthened partnerships across organizations. State Rep. David Leland, who sits on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, gave a keynote address about the importance of engaging with elected officials.

He said that if he gets just five letters on one issue, he pays attention—so he urged advocates to take the time to talk with their lawmakers and build relationships. The conference drew attendees from six Audubon chapters in Ohio, the Nature Conservancy, Ohio Fish and Wildlife, and the Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative.

Urso presented an overview of Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report, and others led talks and discussions about the importance of native plants, Important Bird Areas, and public policy to address climate change.

The following day, Urso went with a few Audubon members to lobby for birds at the Statehouse in Columbus. They met with the offices of state representatives and senators, shared Audubon’s climate science, and voiced their support for clean energy policies. In all, they met with staff from the offices of four lawmakers who span the political spectrum.