Learn about America’s great birder

John James Audubon actually had no role in the organization that bears his name — the Audubon Society.

However, George Bird Grinnell was tutored by Audubon’s widow, Lucy Audubon, and when Grinnell worked to put together an organization protecting birds and their habitats, he decided that the Audubon name would be his inspiration. After all, John James Audubon had left quite the legacy from his intriguing life as an ornithologist, naturalist and painter.

Photo of Brian Ellis as John James Audubon

Hear all about Audubon’s life and work during the Earth Day Celebration 6 p.m. Friday, April 21, at the Pearson Lakes Art Center in Okoboji. The Dickinson County Conservation Board and art center have invited storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis to regale the Iowa Great Lakes area with the fascinating tale of Audubon’s explorations.

“The most amazing thing is he was a total gonzo wildman,” Ellis said. “He would head off into the wilderness for weeks on end with almost nothing — his dog, his paints and his gun.”

Ellis will perform an afternoon show for all fifth-grade classes in the county and then a second show for all ages that evening.

“Everyone is enchanted with this character. I’ve done this program for preschoolers and Ph.D. ornithologists, and there’s something for everyone,” Ellis said. “What I really love is when grandparents bring their grandkids and they both have something to talk about on the way home.”

Because the Audubon show features Ellis telling stories of Audubon’s explorations through his paintings, it fits in perfectly with the mission of both the Dickinson County Nature Center and the Pearson Lakes Art Center.

“This is the perfect opportunity to bring two wonderful community organizations together and showcase aspects of both,” said Lee Sorenson, executive director of the Dickinson County Conservation Board. “Brian Ellis as John James Audubon will be educating people about conservation through a performing art of storytelling.”

“We really value working with non-profit organizations like the nature center,” said Bob Kirschbaum, director of the Pearson Lakes Art Center. “We look forward to many more opportunities to do so.”

The Earth Day Celebration is a free show, although donations will be accepted. The Pearson Lakes Art Center will also have a full bar that audience members may purchase drinks from before the show.

For more information on the Earth Day Celebration or other Dickinson County Conservation Board offerings, visit our environmental education page or call 712-336-6352. You can also keep up with latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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