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About the Venice Area Audubon Society

A Brief History and our Mission

Venice Area Audubon Society began through the efforts of twenty-three dedicated citizens who met in Venice, Florida in July, 1965 under the leadership of Florence Vieta, the chapter's first elected president. In consultation with Sarasota Audubon Society, Venice Area Audubon Society evolved because of concern over environmental issues, including the discovery that bird eggs were weakened due to the use of the pesticide DDT.  On September 27, 1965, Mrs. Vieta was presented the Venice Area Audubon Society Chapter charter, dated July 24, 1965, officially sanctioning the chapter by the National Audubon Society. 

Venice Area Audubon Society’s mission is to promote an understanding of and interest in wildlife and the environment that supports it, and to foster the cause of conservation with emphasis on birds and their habitats. VAAS fulfills its mission through birding field trips, educational presentations, programs for children in coordination with local schools, community science and conservation projects, advocacy, and other activities.  The communities of Venice, Nokomis, Osprey and North Port are served by Venice Area Audubon Society.

President's Page by Jack Foard, VAAS President
Second grade students on a field trip to the Venice Area Audubon Rookery - 
By Lynne Pedlar 

Venice Rookery Park visitors observe nesting birds at sunset. 

Venice Area Audubon Society Past Presidents

1965-1966 Florence Vieta

1967-1969 Emil Swepston

1970-1971 Nan Bergh

1972-1973 Mary Lee Stolte

1974-1975 Stan Stedman

1976-1977 Walter Benedict

1978-1979 Les Gysel

1980-1981 George Klotz

1982-1983 Raymond Gaskill

1984-1985 Les Gysel

1986-1987 Ty Finkbeiner

1988-1989 Don Hiller

1990-1991 William Johnson

1992-1993 Barbara Quinn

1994-1996 Jackie Hiller

1997-1998 Dan Kixmiller

1999-2003 Charles Sample

2003-2005 Dan Kixmiller

2006-2008 David Evans

2009-2010 Missy Christie

2010-2012 Richard Holder

2012-2016 Bonnie Hurley

2016-2020 Brenda Bossman

2020-2022 Jack Foard

2022-2023 Kristin Hoffschmidt

Venice Area Audubon Society Fellows

Eligibility for a Fellow membership includes active VAAS members of at least two years standing who have made a significant contribution to the affairs of VAAS, preferably as an Officer, Director, or Committee member, and/or a significant contribution to the VAAS mission. Venice Aurea Audubon Society Fellows are:

Lynne Bobb-Koths

Brenda Bossman

Bob Clark

Phyllis Courtier

Sydney Crampton

Mary Dommermuth

Jeanne Dubi

William Fairbank

Jacqueline Hiller

Betty Holcomb

Harold Holcomb

Richard Holder

Bonnie Hurley

Dan Kixmiller

Joan Klein

Virginia Koss

Ken Reamy

Jerry Robertson

Joanne Robertson

Barry Rossheim

Charles Sample

Barbara Sappington

Walter Sappington

Jon Thaxton

Ann Van Cott

Charlie Sample

The following article was written in 2020 about the retirement of longtime volunteer Charlie Sample.

25 Years of Service

The Venice Audubon Rookery was a fitting setting for 40 friends to gather together on May 28th to acknowledge, thank and wish Charlie Sample (known to many as Venice’s Mr. Audubon), well as he retires from over 25 years of volunteering, working for, and promoting Venice Audubon and Venice Audubon’s Rookery/Center.

Charlie’s history with Florida began in 1986 on a birding trip and a few years later with a move to the Venice area. He attended his first VAAS meeting in 1996 and immediately joined. As an avid birder with past experience in leading bird trips with the Delaware Nature Society and the Delmarva Ornithology Society, he quickly learned the local birds and began leading trips at Shamrock Park, Caspersen Beach, Plantation Golf & Country Club and Carlton Reserve. Through Sarasota Parks, he was granted permission to lead car trips into the Carlton Reserve back country, allowing avid birders and handicapped individuals to bird in an area they could not otherwise access. Additionally, via Charlie's efforts, VAAS established a bluebird trail in the Carlton Reserve. He has conducted bird ID classes through VAAS and in the community to help birders sharpen their identification skills.

Charlie has also organized and led numerous VAAS overnight trips to the Dry Tortugas and Lower Keys, St. Marks NWR, Everglades NWR, Lake Okeechobee, Okefenokee Swamp NWR in Georgia, Merritt Island NWR and Chinsegut Hill. He was also responsible for taking VAAS members on overseas birding trips to Panama and the rain forest of Costa Rica.

Charlie has served on the VAAS Board as the Director in charge of Programs,

Second Vice President and President. While President, Charlie’s goal was to make VAAS a recognized birding/conservation organization in Sarasota County. In 1999, Charlie single handedly persuaded the Sarasota County Government to allow our Audubon Chapter to access the vacant building located behind the county courthouse. Thus the Venice Audubon Center came into existence where it has prospered and has grown membership. Charlie’s accomplishments are too numerous to mention, but each one is greatly appreciated.

In Charlie’s own words: “I have had a wonderful experience over my 25 years with VAAS as a member, leader and adviser. My happiest moments in VAAS have been gaining the support of the VAAS Boards and the general membership to respond with support for the Venice Audubon Center. Members and friends have helped to support the Center with generous donations and furniture. It has been most gratifying to watch the Center grow and become the focal point for programs, activities and educational endeavors. May the future of VAAS continue to grow and be a leading Chapter on environmental/conservation issues vital to us all as well as all wildlife.” 



Telephone: 941-496-8984

Sarasota County Call Center: 941-861-5000 (General information and directions)


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