The Robert Cooper Audubon Society (RCAS), Inc., is a regional chapter of the National Audubon Society, serving approximately 500 members in East Central Indiana, in Blackford, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Jay, Madison, and Randolph Counties. We are a 501(c)(3) organization, and your gifts are tax-deductible.
Our goals are to protect and enhance the quality of our natural environment; educate our members and others about the natural world and the special relationship that humans have with it; serve our members by providing educational programs, field trip activities, and other programs of interest; and to advance the goals and activities of the National Audubon Society.
Put simply, we join with one another in enjoying, learning about, and protecting our natural surroundings, especially the birds that share it with us. Non-Audubon members are invited to monthly programs, field trips, and other chapter events, most of which do not require a fee.
Our chapter’s roots go back to the early 1960s, when the Delaware County Audubon Society was formed, with its headquarters in Muncie, Indiana. Much like our chapter today, this local birding and nature club came together on a regular basis for informative meetings, fields trips, and social events.
In 1974, Charles Wise (pictured), one of the club’s founders, urged his fellow Auduboners to link their group to the National Audubon Society and expand its range to the six surrounding counties.
Thus, the East Central Indiana Audubon Society (ECIAS) was created to serve Blackford, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Jay, Madison, and Randolph Counties. Individuals in these counties who were already members of the National Audubon Society invited to join this new regional chapter, and the growth continued. Within a very short time, the East Central Indiana Audubon Society had grown from a few dozen individuals to nearly 500 members, thanks to two ambitious membership drives.
In those early days, the chapter met on Ball State’s campus in the Robert H. Cooper Science building, which had been named in honor of Dr. Cooper, a biology professor and one of the group’s original board members. In the following years, the location for monthly meetings moved to another building at Ball State, then to the Muncie Eye Center and, from the late 1990s to 2011, to the Minnetrista Cultural Center. In 2012 monthly meetings moved to their present location, the Kennedy Branch of the Muncie Public Library.
Then, as now, the chapter took half a dozen or more field trips each year to favorite birding spots, and since 1983 the chapter has hosted an annual conservation awards banquet, at which more than 100 individuals and organizations have been honored for their contributions to the environment.
In 2003 the chapter was renamed the Robert Cooper Audubon Society (RCAS), to honor Dr. Cooper for his years of leadership in our own organization and in the Indiana Audubon Society.
Through the years, the ECIAS/RCAS has undertaken important environmental causes: fighting to prevent development of Christy Woods, an 18-acre wooded retreat on the Ball State campus; raising thousands of dollars to preserve land in Costa Rica, the winter home to many of the neotropical songbirds that breed in Indiana; writing letters to local newspaper editors, state legislators, and the Indiana governor to speak out on various issues; local habitat preservation and restoration projects; and many others. We have also assisted local and regional environmental organizations, such as the Wildlife Resqu Haus.
From 1974-2022, 14 individuals have served as President or Co-president: Charles Wise (who served four full or partial terms), Thad Godish (three terms), Betty Guemple (partial term), Phyllis Yuhas (one term), Pam Popovich (one term), Lois Rockhill (one term), Barb Stedman (three terms), Janet Tuhey (one term), Mike Lannoo (partial term), Robin Dungan (partial term), Bonnie Nicholson (one-and-a-half terms), Jon Creek (partial term), Sarah McKillip (three terms), and Annette Rose (currently in her second term, after one year as acting president).
Despite some changes through the years, however, the legacy of the Robert Cooper Audubon Society has remained the same. We continue working to conserve our natural resources and to enjoy the beauty of nature and the pleasure of birding with one another. We have done our best to remain true to the commitment and vision of Charles Wise and the many others who made the East Central Indiana Audubon Society a reality in 1974 and the many hundreds of individuals who have been faithful members for nearly five decades.