It’s Official: We are Nature Forward!

During their October 20, 2022 Annual Meeting, members enthusiastically approved Nature Forward as the new name of the former Audubon Naturalist Society.

Our 125-year-old organization remains committed to our mission to inspire people across our region to appreciate, understand and protect their natural environment. Our vision, to create a larger and more diverse community of people who treasure the natural world and work to preserve it, remains the same.

The new name results from a process that started more than a decade ago when we adopted our mission and vision. The name change is the most recent step in living up to our ideals of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility and reflects our belief in Nature for All in the DC region.

There were several reasons to consider a name change. While acknowledging that the art of John James Audubon was a catalyst for bird conservation in our nation, he was a documented white supremacist and an enslaver. Based on what we heard from many members of our community, retaining his name without regard to the pain that he inflicted on Black people and other people of color would be a disservice.

We also learned that the name ANS wasn’t accessible for numerous audiences who felt the word “naturalist” was not widely understood by nature lovers and that the word “society” seemed exclusive.

Additionally, we were regularly confused with the National Audubon Society, despite being an independent organization that predates the national organization.

Over the last nine months through a thoughtful, inclusive, and dynamic process, we engaged more than 1,000 diverse stakeholders in our search for a new name including surveys, focus groups, stakeholder interviews, and branding workshops. We considered and researched more than 100 names.

We heard that no matter where we come from or live in the Capital Region, our community is united by our love of nature. Enjoying, learning about, and protecting nature is at the heart of everything we do, even though the ways we engage with nature may be different.

Ultimately, we heard that Nature Forward feels approachable and memorable. It’s future-focused and appeals to a younger generation as well as members who’ve been with us for decades. Nature Forward reflects the impact we can have as stewards of the environment in our region when we move forward together.

“I love Nature Forward,” said Board President Diane Wood. “It signals that we are a welcoming and inclusive organization. Nature is what unites us. And nature needs all of us to protect clean water and air, preserve our precious open spaces and combat climate change.”

The Nature Forward logo features the outline of a heart-shaped redbud leaf, a native tree in the Capital Region. The heart-shape signals love for community and nature. Its characteristic pointed tip represents an arrow pointing toward a greener future for the next generation. The stylized bright colors of the leaf represent nature in all four seasons and a commitment to diversity, inclusion and belonging.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the name Nature Forward mean for our work?

Our mission and vision remain the same. We believe that, over time, Nature Forward will help us more successfully achieve our mission by allowing us to engage more diverse audiences, including younger people, who want to appreciate, preserve and protect the natural world.

Nature Forward feels approachable and memorable. It’s future-focused and appeals to a younger generation as well as valued members who’ve been around for decades.

We are excited about the opportunities the new name and logo bring. But in the end, we know that an organization is so much more than what we call ourselves. Nature Forward reflects the impact we can have, as stewards of our region’s outdoors, when we move forward together.

What does the new logo represent?

Our new logo features the beautiful redbud leaf, a native plant that symbolizes nature in the Capital Region. The redbud’s heart-shaped leaf represents love for our community and nature, while its characteristic pointed tip represents an arrow – progress towards a greener future for the next generation.

The bright colors of the leaf represent the vibrant colors of nature in all four seasons and our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and belonging.

The hand-drawn quality of the leaf and name give the feel of a grassroots organization. It’s playful, representing the wonder of nature for kids at our camp and preschool. Imagine a child reaching up to catch a falling leaf in their tiny, outstretched fingers. It’s also bold, just like our advocacy to mitigate climate change and preserve and protect the natural environment in the Capital Region.

Why did ANS decide to change its name?

This decision has been a long time coming. It is part of our ongoing commitment to create a larger and more diverse community of people who treasure the natural world and work to preserve it. It became clear that this will never be fully possible with the name ANS.

John James Audubon was a catalyst for bird conservation in our nation. However, based on what we heard from many members of our community, retaining his name without regard to the pain that he inflicted on Black people and other people of color would be a disservice. 

We also learned that the name ANS wasn’t accessible for numerous audiences who felt the word “naturalist” was not widely understood by nature lovers and that the word “society” seemed exclusive. 

Additionally, we were regularly confused with the National Audubon Society, despite being an independent organization that predates the national organization.

What if I send an email to staff using the anshome.org email address? 

Don’t worry, we’ll receive your email.  Our system has been set up so that all anshome.org email addresses will forward to the appropriate person at natureforward.org. If you want to try using a new email address, our email format is [email protected]  

Will your web address change? 

Our new web address is www.natureforward.org. But don’t worry about using the old web address. You will be automatically sent to our new website. 

Will my membership stay the same? 

Yes! Your membership level and expiration date stay the same, and you will continue to enjoy all the same member benefits you received as an ANS member.

Can checks still be made out to Audubon Naturalist Society? 

Yes, Nature Forward is the same legal corporation as Audubon Naturalist Society and our bank will process the checks normally. But go ahead, don’t be afraid to write checks to Nature Forward, too! Donations remain 100% tax deductible and our Federal Tax Identification Number is still 53-0233715.

Do I need to change my monthly membership credit card payments? 

No. Our banking information is all the same. We’ve updated our new name and our bank is processing both ANS and Nature Forward payments.