September 20, 2016
Contact: Suzanne Langley, 205-719-3678 (ext. 4) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Watts elected president of Birmingham Audubon
Joe Watts of Birmingham has been elected president of Birmingham Audubon Society. Watts has been involved with Alabama tourism since 1999 when he worked with an ad-hoc group to formalize the Alabama Scenic Byways Program.
Watts was elected September 15 to fulfill the term of Michelle Reynolds who stepped down to spend more time with family. Members elected Watts as president-elect in April 2015. Birmingham Audubon is the 70-year-old Alabama organization supporting conservation, birds and habitat and a greater knowledge of the natural world.
“Growing up in rural Southwest Alabama, my interest in the outdoors started early, with my mother carrying me into the deep woods long before I could walk,” Watts says. “Later, I explored the woods alone, building shelters, climbing trees and doing those things that a young boy did before video games and 24-hour television. I got my first subscription to Audubon Magazine as a birthday present from my mother when I turned 14.”
The new Birmingham Audubon president grew his conservation interest into a passion for eco-tourism first helping write the legislation creating the state’s scenic byways program. He began working closely with Birmingham Audubon as part of the statewide system of sites known as the Alabama Birding Trails. The project strengthened the connection between tourism, conservation and economic development. He works with the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development on several tourism-related projects and the Alabama Association of Regional Councils on the Alabama Scenic Byways Program.
Watts has also worked as an editor at Southern Progress, home to magazines such as Southern Living and Cooking Light where he says, “even then, I brought my love of the outdoors to my job, writing, when I wasn’t developing recipes, about bird-watching and about nature photography.” He began his volunteering for conservation in the 1990s with the Sierra Club. He received his Master of Arts degree from Auburn University, and Bachelor of Arts degree from Birmingham-Southern. He and his wife Ann live, with three indoor cats he points out, in the Highland Park neighborhood of Birmingham.