Paintings and drawings of birds adorn Eddie Woodin’s walls. A stuffed black bear stands in his living room. Duck decoys line his shelves. When placed on hold at his business, callers hear bird songs.

On Thursday night, Woodin gave another demonstration of his passion when he donated $100,000 to Maine Audubon for its capital campaign.

Most would agree that the donation was generous, but for Woodin it is a marriage between three of the guiding interests in his life – nature, spiritualism and his business.

Woodin is the owner and founder of Woodin and Company, a fixture manufacturing company in Portland. He started the company 13 years ago with some cash and five credit cards. Today he is highly successful, shipping store fixtures across the country and overseas.

He credits his spiritualism as part of the reason for his business’s success. Before starting Woodin and Company, he prayed to see what God wanted him to do.

“God has been an important factor in his life,” said Woodin’s friend Stephen Racz. “He really has a heart for people as well as a heart for nature and the environment.”

Guided by God

Woodin prays and reads the Bible daily. He also attends church, but always attend the same one. He describes his spirituality as “free form.”

“You don’t need intermediaries to get to God,” he said.

His spiritualism is one of the main reasons he assists environmental groups and a host of other charities and non-profit organizations. “Faith without deeds is no faith,” he said, paraphrasing a Bible passage.

Woodin donates as much as $100,000 a year to about 40 charities he is interested in. “How much money does a person need?” he said, adding that by the time he dies, he hopes to provide for his wife and two children, but have the rest of his money already spent.

Even before Woodin founded his company he still helped causes in any way he could. He said he had weekly quotas on giving encouraging phone calls and writing notes to people. He also volunteered his time and donated what he could afford to non-profit groups.

“It was good will. It was a pure intention,” he said.

Other people who have known Woodin for years agree. Linda Woodard, director the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, has known Woodin for about 20 years and first met him while he was guiding a hawk tour.

She remembers an occasion where a child who was doing a school report on hawks and approached Woodin looking for more information. Woodin took the boy aside and explained everything he knew.

“He just made that boy feel so good about himself,” she said. “That’s Eddie. He just loves to share his joy of nature.”

A lifelong interest

That joy has been present his entire life. Woodin first became interested in birds and nature as a child growing-up in Concord, Mass.

“I just had a liking and appreciation for these creatures,” he said.

It was there that he and a neighbor, Peter Alden, who is now a bird tour operator and author of 15 books on birds, started the hobby with their two brothers.

Back then there were no bird guides and the group used “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau as a guide. They visited Walden Pond, the ocean and areas around a nearby lake to watch birds in their habitat.

“We’re sort of reliving our childhood a little bit,” Alden said.

Woodin graduated form Colby in 1969 and moved out of Maine for a couple of years, but returned in the early 1970s and became involved with the Audubon, especially its work at Scarborough Marsh.

Woodin also has been active with the Friends of Scarborough Marsh and hosted the group’s first membership drive at his home. More than 100 people attended the party, and many joined the organization simply because of Woodin’s involvement, said Friends of Scarborough Marsh Chairman C.D. Armstrong.

“He’s remained a consistent and loyal supporter,” Armstrong said.

Woodin is still active in birding and the Audubon. Earlier this year he participated in the Audubon’s annual Bird-A-Thon fundraiser and donated $10,000.

An evolving appreciation

Listing and counting the number of species he has encountered has become less important to Woodin, and today he likes going birding simply to enjoy nature.

“I see a bird, I see beauty and I appreciate it,” he said.

He explains there is a progression in most birders lives in which they start out interested in only the birds and the total number of species they view. As years go by, the person becomes more interested in the environment and some will become environmentalists and work to protect natural habitat.

That is where Woodin finds himself today. He hopes by discussing his donations to the Audubon and his activities with other non-profits he will spur others to become interested in the environment and do what they can to protect it.

He is planning to start two environmental-based projects that he hopes will generate interest in conservation and get people, especially youngsters, to become stewards of the land.

The Bird Art Museum will be started with his extensive collection of bird paintings, which includes more than 400 paintings from the 1890s to 1940, what he terms as the romantic era for bird art.

Friends of Bird and Nature is an organization that will bring together naturalists and various environmental organizations to develop new ways to encourage stewardship and show people what can be done to protect the environment and animal habitat.

Eddie Woodin (left) listening to Maine Audubon Director Kevin Carley Thursday night. Wooding hosted a party at his home for some 150 members of Maine Audubon and Friends of Scarborough Marsh, along with naturalist and friends to recognize their efforts. He also donated $100,000 to Maine Audubon.

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