Ellen found a Hellbender

Ellen found a Hellbender.

“Evan and Ellen were over the moon.” That’s what I heard from one of the participants. What were they doing? Nate Welker, a fisheries biologist put a Hellbender Survey in last year’s auction. Winning bidders got to tag along with him on one of his normal work days to slop around in the creeks looking for our largest salamander. For Nate, it’s just another day at work. For the tagalongs, it was an experience they will remember the rest of their lives.

This year’s auction will feature some pretty cool “stuff” – like a gorgeous turquoise necklace, hand-crafted wooden toys, photographs and artwork by local artists, books by a local author, a wine and chocolate basket, and the like. Every year, in addition to “stuff,” we seek out unique experiences to put up for bid. Nate’s Hellbender Survey is one example. He’s also offering a Freshwater Mussel Survey – new this year! For those of you who avoid auctions because you have enough stuff, consider some of the following offerings.

Do you have a coin collection and wonder what it is worth? You could bid on two hours of time with a representative from the Jamestown Coin Club and get an appraisal.

Ever wonder what it’s like to golf and dine at Moonbrook? You can bid to be one of three guests of a generous donor to play 18 holes followed by dinner.

Wouldn’t it be fun to take your family to a small maple sugar operation and learn what it takes to make the sweet stuff? From tapping the trees to bottling, you can follow the process when you bid on the Maple Syrup Lesson.

Home cooked meals are on the list. Eight guests might win the bid for a Vegan Feast. Or, if you prefer meat, how about a Venison Dinner for four?

One of the food-related items is titled “Water Chestnut Pulling Junket AND Gourmet Meal.” What? The host for this one encourages bidders with this description: “Get up-close and participate in our commitment to eradicate the invasive Water Chestnut from the ponds at the Audubon Nature Center. Enjoy a relaxing and rewarding expedition onto or into the ponds in search of the few remaining denizens that have invaded our area. Help us protect all the lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams in our ecosystem. Each participant will receive a gourmet meal served sur l’eau (on the water).” How can you resist?

Do you like local history? How about a Chautauqua County Parks Tour – to be led by one of the parks’ namesakes. Tom Erlandson will be your guide as you visit four Chautauqua County Parks including the Erlandson Overview Park. Picnic lunch will be a part of the package.


Water Chestnut Pulling Junket AND Gourmet Meal.

Also new this year are corporate Gold Members Jamestown Container Companies, and PNC Financial Services. Thanks to these two companies, you might also bid on tickets to see the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Cleveland Indians, Erie Otters, or the Erie Seawolves. Gold Member Whirly Drinkworks’ contribution isn’t an experience, but could enhance YOUR event: 100 personalized travel mugs, with an option to purchase up to 200 more at a discounted price. Imagine your next family reunion, a wedding, or another large event with these customized souvenirs.

If you are thinking “been there done that” about Audubon’s fall fundraiser, I encourage you to think again. This year, auction co-chairs John Beard and Nate Welker promise a relaxed atmosphere and loads of fun. The venue is our very own Nature Center with food being served in the Spanish tapas tradition. Lots of bite-sized delicacies including chicken, vegan dishes, and local favorites and desserts will be prepared by Shenandoah Valley BBQ and Miley’s Catering and will be revealed throughout the dining hour and throughout the building to encourage you to go exploring.

We’re calling it OctoberFEAST and it’s all happening on Saturday, October 22, 2016. Doors open for cash bar, silent auction, and to view live auction items at 5:30 p.m. The tapas food stations will be revealed from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. The live auction begins at 7:30. Reservations with payment are required by October 14 and can be made online at jasauction.weebly.com, where you can also view more details about items both tangible and experiential that will be up for bid. You can also reserve your spot by calling (716) 569-2345, or by stopping in at 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown, NY.

Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature by providing positive outdoor experiences, opportunities to learn about and understand the natural world, and knowledge to act in environmentally responsible ways. Visit us at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile off Route 62, or online at auduboncnc.org.

Jennifer Schlick is Program Director at ACNC.