Manatee County Audubon Society is thrilled to announce the hiring of 5 new interns! These interns will be committing 40 hours a month from January to June to help with a variety of on going or upcoming projects. Half of their time will be solely directed towards implementing the habitat management plan on Felts Preserve. If you see them out and about, be sure to say hi and ask them lots of questions!

Claire Bonham

“Hi, I am Claire Bonham and I am originally from Lombard, Illinois and currently attend Florida Southern College in Lakeland. I am studying marine biology and environmental studies which is driven by my passion for conservation and environmental outreach. I am extremely excited to begin working at Felts Audubon Preserve and cannot wait to get started!”

Claire will be assisting ongoing land management tasks at Felts Preserve, aiding Around the Bend with out Audubon Adventures Program, and aiding MCAS in our Climate Change Advocacy goals in collaboration with Florida Audubon. If you have any questions you can reach her at

Fana Scott

"Hi! I am a junior at Eckerd College studying Biology and Environmental Studies. I am passionate about ecology research and connecting people to the outdoors through science. I'm very excited to learn and grow through this internship!"

Fana will be assisting ongoing land management tasks at Felts Preserve and running point on our new Southeastern American Kestrel Nestbox Program. If you see a pair of kestrels in the breeding season please let Fana know at

Jacob Beil

“Hi, my name is Jacob Beil and I am a 23 year old college student and I will be graduating this spring semester with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy. I have long been passionate about the environment, specifically with anything related to plant life. I have previously done work with the Montana Conservation Corps in managing invasive vegetation. I like to get out and explore my natural surroundings as often as possible and I am always taking pictures of plants and fungi that I don't recognize, in order to expand my knowledge base. After graduating and completing this internship I plan on joining my partner in southwestern Colorado. While I am sure that I will miss the variety and exotic flora of Florida, I am excited to learn all about a new environment!”

Jacob will be assisting ongoing land management tasks at Felts to help us restore our native pine flatwoods and pasture systems. If you have any questions for him you can reach him at

Shivam Shukla

“My name is Shivam and I am currently a senior environmental science major at USF! I grew up in Tampa, FL and after high school I attended the University of Maryland, College Park to study computer science. However, after a couple semesters, I realized my true passion: the environment. Since then, I transferred to USF and have worked with various organizations around the Tampa Bay Area in promoting and conserving our natural resources, and I cannot wait to get started with the MCAS. In my free time, I enjoy climbing, hiking, and kayaking with my brother.”

Shiv will be assisting ongoing land management tasks at Felts Preserve and running point on MCAS Colony Watch Project. If you love wading birds (Herons, Egrets, Storks oh my!) reach out to Shiv and volunteer at

Zach Cavanaugh

"Hi, my name is Zach Cavanaugh. I’m 22 years old and have lived in Sarasota, FL my whole life. I’m currently a senior at the University of South Florida, majoring in environmental studies. I am passionate about conservation and wildlife ecology, and am excited for this internship to serve both as my first work experience in the field and a great way to help my community. "

Zach will be assisting ongoing land management tasks at Felts Preserve and running point on MCAS shorebird monitoring and stewardship project. If you love the beach and it's birds reach out to Zach to help the beach birds of Anna Maria Island at

On May 6, 2020 after months of negotiations to insure that the interests of our members are best served, previous MCAS president Ray Jusseaume signed the contract assigning a Conservation Easement to the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast.

Under the terms of the contract, Felts Preserve must remain a preserve forever. There has been a tremendous surge of property being sold for both residential and commercial uses all around us. Felts may serve as a last refuge for the local and migratory wildlife that call our preserve and surrounding area home.

Karen and Jim Watch as Ray Signs Felts Preserve into the future.

Monthly Conservation Roundup

County Level: Manatee County Conservation Land Acquisition Tax Passes!

Thank you Manatee County Audubon Society members and the general public who supported the new Manatee County Bond Referendum to help protect land and water resources from over development. Your voice was heard and the county will begin protecting land of conservation concern as early as 2021!

State Level: New Species of Whale Discovered

A tiny population of baleen whales (~100 total individuals) that was previously presumed to be a subspecies of Byrd's Whale has been confirmed as a new species. This small population is already listed as endangered and will need continued conservation action to protect for the future. Read more at:

State Level: 27,000 acres donated to the University of Florida in Osceola County

The De Luca Family has donated 27,000 acres to the University of Florida in conjunction with Wild Ducks Unlimited. The university has said that it will use the land for land and natural resources management. Top research questions include how wildlife respond on grazing pressure, water storage and conservation, and land and forest management. Home to many threatened species including Florida grasshopper sparrows, red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises and can serve as a corridor for Florida panthers and many other wildlife species. A huge conservation success story right next to the critical Kissimmee State Park.