The former director of the Michigan Audubon Society has been hired as the new director of the Montana Audubon Center in Billings.
Jonathan Lutz, who headed the Michigan society for the past seven years, took over at the Montana Audubon Center on Dec. 1. He succeeded Darcie Howard, the longtime director who resigned last summer with plans to return to her East Coast roots.
A press release from Montana Audubon said Lutz, during his time in Michigan, “professionalized the all-grassroots organization, implemented a new governance model for its board of directors, and formalized a year-long series of signature bird-watching and conservation events.”
He was also the chief fundraiser for Michigan Audubon, and leaves behind an operation that had annual expenses of $650,000.
“I feel I achieved my goals as executive director of the state Audubon organization in Michigan,” Lutz said in the release. “We stabilized the organization’s finances, built strong and long-lasting partnerships, and opened up a new frontier of bird appreciation through programming during my time there.”
The release also said Lutz hopes to bring a stronger focus on birds to the Billings center’s offerings of nature programs, while continuing to highlight the Yellowstone River ecosystem. He said he is eager to increase the number of Center Friends—the facility’s donor base—and work with the all-volunteer advisory council to promote the center’s program offerings.
Lutz has already met with members of Montana Audubon’s primary local partner, the Yellowstone River Parks Association, and last Saturday he took part in the annual Christmas Bird Count with members of the Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society.
The Montana Audubon Center is a grassroots project developed in partnership with the YRPA. It is located on 54 acres of land along the Yellowstone River in Billings. Once a gravel mine, the site has been transformed by volunteers into habitat for wildlife and a year-round education center.
The center’s goals include preserving and enriching wildlife habitat, connecting people with nature and providing important open space and public outdoor recreational opportunities in Billings.