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Episode 9: A Fresh Take at Audubon International

Welcome to Episode 9 of the Golf Sustainability Podcast! In this enlightening conversation, host John Failla engages with Frank LaVardera, the Director of Environmental Programs for Golf at Audubon International. Together, they delve into the intricacies of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP), the Signature Program, and Audubon International’s groundbreaking Platinum Program, all designed to foster environmental sustainability in golf courses.

Frank, with his extensive background in environmental consulting, shares his journey to Audubon International and sheds light on the ACSP. This program tailors solutions for existing golf courses, guiding them through an environmental assessment and creating plans for water conservation, wildlife habitat management, chemical use reduction, and more. The conversation seamlessly transitions to the Signature Program, designed for new courses or those undergoing renovations, with Frank outlining its 11 components and emphasizing the importance of the Natural Resource Management Plan.

Drawing from real-world examples, Frank spotlights Saco Country Club in Maine, showcasing their commitment to sustainability, especially in managing water runoff and implementing a closed-loop wash water system. The podcast further explores Audubon International’s initiatives, such as the BioBlitz program, Monarchs in the Rough, and the Raptor Relocation Program, demonstrating the organization’s dedication to conservation.

Frank shares insights into Audubon International’s collaborations with partners and sponsors, emphasizing the impact of environmentally sustainable products and services from companies like Water IQ and Porous Pavement. Reflecting on his influential career, he highlights the evolution of sustainability in the golf industry over the past 40 years, sharing inspiring stories about environmental stewards like Jim Pavonetti.

In the final segment, listeners gain a glimpse into Frank’s personal motivations and aspirations, where he expresses a desire to be remembered as someone who cared deeply about the environment and fostered a user-friendly and collaborative approach in the golf industry.

Join us on this insightful journey into the intersection of golf and environmental stewardship. Subscribe to the Golf Sustainability Podcast on your favorite platform and tee off with us as we explore the vital role of sustainability in shaping the future of golf. Together, let’s make golf more sustainable and environmentally friendly!

Topics Covered

  1. Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP) for Existing Golf Courses
    • Time Stamp: [00:00:00] to [00:14:00]
    • Overview of the ACSP, its six certification components, and a specific example of Saco Country Club’s journey in implementing environmental practices.
  2. Signature Program for New Golf Courses and Renovations
    • Time Stamp: [00:14:00] to [00:26:00]
    • Discussion on the Signature Program, its 11 certification components, and an example of Cabot Revelstoke, a new golf course being constructed in British Columbia.
  3. Platinum Program for Integrated Certification
    • Time Stamp: [00:26:00] to the end
    • Introduction of the Platinum Program, which combines certification for golf courses, clubhouses, and lodging facilities under one umbrella, enhancing sustainability efforts for resort-type facilities.
  4. Audubon International’s Conservation Initiatives
    • Time Stamp: [00:30:00] – [00:32:00]
    • Discussing Audubon International’s various conservation programs, such as the BioBlitz program, Monarchs in the Rough program, and the Raptor Relocation Program. Highlighting the goals and impact of these initiatives on sustainability and biodiversity.
  5. Sponsorship and Partnerships for Environmental Sustainability
    • Time Stamp: [00:32:00] – [00:34:00]
    • Exploring the importance of partnerships and sponsorships for funding Audubon International’s conservation initiatives. Featuring examples of sponsors like Water IQ and Porous Pavement, and discussing how such collaborations contribute to environmental sustainability in golf courses.
  6. Personal Journey and Motivations in Environmental Conservation
    • Time Stamp: [00:34:00] – [00:45:00]
    • Delving into Frank’s personal journey in environmental conservation, from his early days in the field to his current role at Audubon International. Discussing inspirations, experiences, and the drive behind his commitment to promoting sustainability in the golf industry.

Resources and People Mentioned:

  • Audubon International: The main organization discussed in the transcript. It is a non-profit organization focused on environmental conservation, particularly in the context of golf courses.
  • USGA (United States Golf Association): Mentioned as a longstanding relationship and sponsor for Audubon International.
  • Water IQ: A company that sponsors Audubon International. They provide a product for treating and eliminating algae in ponds and lakes at golf courses without using chemicals.
  • Porous Pavement: Another sponsor mentioned that provides a product used in various applications at golf courses, including cart paths, sandbunker linings, parking lots, and other hardscape areas.
  • The Cornell Turf School Program: Mentioned in the context of show notes, possibly as a resource or reference.
  • Cabot RevelStroke: Mentioned as part of the show notes, potentially another organization or resource related to golf sustainability.


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Frank LaVardera


Connect with Audubon International

Audubon International 

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Note: Timestamps provided are approximate.

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