History

Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society

Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society (YVAS) is affiliated with the National Audubon Society and is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  The funds we raise are used solely for promoting and maintaining YVAS’s mission “to promote enjoyment and protection of the natural environment through education, activism, and conservation of bird habitat.”

When YVAS was first formed in 1953, it was originally named the Billings Audubon Society.  The first meeting was organized by Professor William Hoheisel at the Eastern Normal College with 150 people in attendance.  They elected Carson E. Bechtel, President; Theodore A. Topper, Vice President; Miss Winifred Stull, Secretary; and Dr. Raymond E. Smalley, Treasurer.

This was a very committed group of pioneers. Lectures and films were popular monthly programs just as they are today. Careful records were kept from the start by Theodora Smith, describing field trips and observations along Airport Road, Alkali Creek, Huntley and Laurel.  Records show that the Billings Audubon Society first participated in the Christmas Bird Count on December 29, 1953, recording 2,500 birds.  The first Bulletin for the Billings Audubon Society was issued in October 1970 by Billie Hicks who was then President and served 5 terms.

As the Billings Audubon Society grew to represent more members throughout the area, the Board of Directors proposed changing the chapter’s name to the ‘Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society’ in September 1974.  This was officially recorded in early 1976 as Helen Carlson took over the leadership and YVAS has continued in its mission “to promote enjoyment and protection of the natural environment through education, activism, and conservation of bird habitat.”  Archived records originally kept at the Billings Parmly Library are now kept at Rocky Mountain College’s library.

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