Thursday, August 24, 2017


Sport Development Manager

You are looking at the face of the person responsible for nearly everything that the AU is, visually. Deone Roberts has been sculpting the public image of our national organization for nearly 17 years, and she is very good at it.

The former legal secretary is the AU’s go-to person to plan and manage public presentations, board meetings, zone meetings, press kits, postcards, brochures, CDs, DVDs, and even creates ads, edits videos, writes articles, and does it all while looking for eye-popping, low-cost advertising and promotions.

She created, and manages, the e-newsletter called Pigeon Tracks, that targets AU youth, and she is now seeing an average of 80 to 100 new members join the AU each month. That alone is a remarkable achievement (for which she does not get nearly enough credit). I just received my 11 page, Fall 2017 version of the letter today, and it is a magnificent vehicle for the AU to communicate with its newest, and most important members.

Ever need to query information from the member data base? Ever get involved with lost birds? Ever have questions about youth promotional programs? Ever refer anyone to the national office for brochures or website information on pigeon racing? Ever need to know the latest on PETA activities? Ever need information dug up in preparation for dealing with city ordinance issues? In every case, you would be dealing with Deone Roberts.

An effective National Office can not be run without great talent. There can be no growth, or improvement without gifted people working diligently, steadily, humbly, in the background.

This optimistic marketing exec is completely devoted to saving our sport from decline, and from those who might seek to deface it. She is there to assist you, and we, as members of the American Racing Pigeon Union, are fortunate to have her on our side, guarding our flanks.

Deone is always in “push mode” and is ready to help you solve problems. We encourage you to please feel free to call her.

Degree in Marketing & Business Admin

Attended OSU. Graduated from UCO with a Degree in Marketing and Business Administration. Creates ads, articles, flyers, postcards, brochures, inserts, press kits, and is skilled in the use of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and Constant Contact. Created and manages the Junior member newsletter Pigeon Tracks.

Former Legal Secretary

In this day and age, what armament and experience could be more helpful in the front office than training in legal work. God knows, times are changing, and this new fact of life keeps Deone front and center as she works on challenging issues that come before AU members.
Former Assistant to Founder of Feed the Children
Reported directly to Founder, President, and CEO of this International organization that distributed food and supplies world-wide. Served as an intermediary inside and outside the organization between representatives and the President.

By Coop Kohli, AU Lakes Zone Director, August 20, 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Coop Kohli
AU Lakes Zone Director


I have a club in my zone that really knew how to hurt me.  They told me the AU, to them, was only a good place to buy bands, and that if their club could buy seamless bands cheaper from the IF, they were going to leave the AU. 

They could save money, they figured!  

Now, even our brothers in the IF need new members and more membership dues, and it may surprise you that Tom Coletti works closely with IF President Richy Smith whenever he can.  Furthermore, we certainly don't want to deprive relief to any of our comrades in the sport, but thank God, not all of us think this way.  Even though some of these guys are my friends that I respect as fanciers, I question their reasoning and long term vision.  I was exasperated to learn just how uninformed and unmotivated they were about the important past work done, and the important current work being done without fanfare, by the AU.  (Therein may lie the problem).


You may not have known, but prior to 9/11, the United States Postal Service (USPS), I am told, had access to its own aircraft, and could schedule live animal shipments to anywhere, pretty much at any time they wanted.  Shipping pigeons was a no-brainer.  However, when animal rights activists began to pressure major airline CEO’s, the USPS also grew cautious.  Then, 9/11 happened, and air travel and shipping restrictions tightened up overnight.  Compounding the problem at the time, was the USPS decision to begin using only commercial airlines.

Greg Smith (a Washington attorney/lobbyist hired by the AU), with one of our former NW Zone Directors, Dr. Gary Braden, accompanied Karen Clifton to DC to visit with Senators, with a goal to encourage the continued shipping of pigeons through the USPS.  

Our small group sat down with the legal team of the USPS, where the USPS acknowledged that animal rights groups were our biggest source of difficulty.
We all know that during that time, the ability to ship pigeons became frustratingly difficult.  A fancier would have to call a specific post office in his area to secure a shipping permit, and the birds could only be shipped at specific times, from specific locations.  In my case, I had to drive a two hour round-trip to Akron, Ohio.

Concurrently, the AU began visiting local United Parcel Service (UPS) representatives to determine if there might be a viable alternative.  A regional UPS VP saw potential profit, and ran the idea up the flagpole to the UPS national office in Atlanta.  (The AU provided rough estimates of how many fanciers there were in the US, and estimates of how many birds were shipped, and what the potential total number of shipments might be, then had pigeons shipped to the UPS office so their people could see first hand that shipping pigeons was safe, and that it worked through the UPS system.)  Unfortunately, the UPS legal team expected future issues to develop, so shipping for pigeon fanciers was denied.

The AU continued reporting shipping problems on behalf of its members to the USPS reps in DC that Karen Clifton had cultivated.  On some occasions the USPS commercial air logistics coordinator in DC was able to correct a situation so members could ship birds, but on other occasions, nothing could be done, and birds could not be shipped to certain locations.

The AU repeatedly encouraged the USPS to identify another source so the shipping process could improve for AU members.  Finally, the USPS began working with Federal Express, who had a representative visit an Oklahoma breeder (CBS) to inspect our pigeon shipping containers, and the actual shipping process.  It was subsequently determined that FedEX would carry live birds for the USPS, and AU members have had better service ever since.


In retrospect, without the background work of the AU, where would we be as a sport, if the AU had “only sold bands”?   What was that USPS effort worth to the sport?  What effect would a lack of AU involvement have had on club fund-raising if young bird futurities all over this country had been unable to receive OOA birds?  Extend that question to one-loft races? 

The same question could be asked about the AU’s work on:
  • Winspeed which has been used by both national organizations for over 25 years;
  • on the AU’s crown-jewel, the National Data Base;
  • on the nationwide PR effort associated with lost bird recovery;
  • with the veterinarians in the USDA on Avian Influenza research;
  • or on perhaps our most difficult, no-win, pursuit, the AU Infractions Committee, as it interprets club constitution and by-laws in membership dispute settlements? 
  • In Ohio and Michigan, how could any club not be aware of the effort and funding the AU put into reducing the Avian Influenza restrictions when the AU retained Dr. Glyde Marsh to guide us through that effort. 
  • And, what about the Washington lobbying effort, and the push-back and monitoring of PETA?
  • Does anyone remember the $50,000 the AU spent fighting the city of Chicago on ordinance issues?

Thinking about it seriously, it is apparent to me, that my wife and I can’t eat one Saturday morning breakfast in an Ohio Bob Evans restaurant for the cost of my AU annual membership. 

Next to my shipping fees, it has always been the best investment in pigeon racing.  My conclusion: the AU needs to spend more time telling members what it does for them.   

Monday, August 14, 2017

AU Board President Tom Coletti

Coop Kohli, Lakes Zone Director                                                July 10, 2017




Just My Opinion: For clarification, I need to say that after spending 25 years in corporate America, for nearly another 20 years, I have owned a small business in Ohio, employing just under 40 employees. I have in that time developed an improving sense about people, and I understand the need that all my partners in the business make a contribution, as we work to survive and make a profit. When you pay the bills yourself, you are motivated to quickly sort the productive types from the talking types. The same thing applies to our ARPU. Tom Coletti is one of the productive types.

I am also in my third year as a zone director, and have no illusions of grandeur about being a long term board member, although it clearly takes several years to develop board members well rounded and well versed in navigating the challenges facing the sport, especially challenges that are taking on a different face.  When my contributions level off, I will gladly vacate my seat to someone better equipped to contribute. I serve on the board without compensation because I feel I can help. I am a volunteer that loves the sport. I do not subscribe to the thinking by some Facebook talking-heads that being a board member automatically makes one a free-loader, a crook, a charlatan, lazy or stupid. I find that simpleminded talk to be patently offensive to the good men working hard on the AU board for the improvement of the sport. The talking-heads forget that board members aren't paid for their services like board members in many commercial companies. And, good luck with that attempt to establish election platforms and impact re-elections. A number of us had to be appointed to our board positions because not enough members in our zones voted to make the elections functional the first time around.

We currently are facing some challenges, but tough times don’t last. If, several years ago, I had been
asked to help design a robot with AI to lead the AU, I would not have recommended that you create
another Tom Coletti. In fact, in 2004, when a younger Coletti became our National Race Secretary, I
clearly did not like the man, or his aggressive style of interpreting race rules. Our poor race
secretaries didn't stand a chance in rules challenges against the man.

Now, however, after having watched Coletti for 3 years as Lakes Zone Director, I have a new
perspective. I sit here tonight wishing I had someone like him for a business partner. My business
could use some of that PUSH and raw determination. As a CEO, this pugnacious style is an asset.
The man is very knowledgeable about previous challenges the sport has faced, is very opinionated
about how best to deal with those challenges, and defends his beliefs vigorously. Tom Coletti is cut
from a different cloth, and leads our organization from a management perspective much more
managerial than in times past, reflective of his vast experience and training as Superintendent of
Public Works for the city of Millbrae, California, where for 34 years, he managed people,
budgets, negotiated contracts, managed streets, water, buildings, and the Department of Public
Works Emergency Response.

Where could we have found a man with that background to contribute so generously for so many
years to our sport without making us pay him? You couldn't possibly have found a more sincere man,
more perfectly prepared to volunteer to head up a small national organization with an annual budget
of $500K. Tom Coletti is exactly the right man for our organization, at the right time, and he is a bull-dog fighting for the interests of the small back-yard flyer that races pigeons for the love of it, that is losing his voice.

After his retirement, preparation for his current role as AU President was also time-consuming and
significant. It took 9 years, in this form; Chairman of the AU Competition Standards Committee
for 9 years, AU National Race Secretary for 9 years, AU Constitution and By-laws advisor for 2
years, and Northwest Zone Director. During much of that time Coletti received 8 to 10 phone calls
a week creating its own back-log of additional duties. If one seeks consistency in policy-making and
decision-making, you do not reinvent the wheel with green personnel every term. An organization
cross-trains, and promotes from within if qualified people are available, and prepared. Coletti is a
good example of that kind of training coming to fruition.

During his time as AU President, Coletti has focused on cost-cutting: he has eliminated the AU
Historian, cut the travel and expenses of past Presidents, is trying to cut the term of the President ex-officio and the expenses associated with 4 more years of travel, cut our membership in the FCI and its associated European travel expense, reduced the staff in the AU office, and centralized the mid-summer meeting location to minimize yet more travel expense.  When is the last time you saw serious cost-cutting get done? Coletti has no sacred cows, EXCEPTING WINSPEED DEVELOPMENT, a topic for another article.

Tom Coletti is certainly very capable of defending himself, but it boggles the mind to think that a man that has given so much of himself to this great sport for so long should have to tolerate, for even a minute, the verbal abuse and disrespect some uninformed fanciers throw his way. I am very aware of his contributions, and this sport will miss him when he steps down in Chicago. I want to assure the
people that know me, that your AU Board is comprised of some fine men with backgrounds that can
help the sport progress, and they are very generous with their time. I am honored to sit among them.
Don’t let the loud few confuse and obscure the good works done by these seasoned, high quality
board members.

President Tom Coletti and this Board of Directors deserve your continuing confidence and support.
Tom Coletti has mine. I wish I could find a 35 year old Tom Coletti to run my business with the
same tenacity he manages our union.

In the words of former President, Steve Lawler, “GO AU”.

Who Is Joyce Stierlin?

Get to know the AU board members

Joyce is the diamond that has been added to the ranks of AU board members and is truly looking to the future of the sport.  Her professional accomplishments and experience are a huge benefit to all pigeon flyers. Read on to see what she is working on to make the sport better for all.

Most of California already knows a lady named Joyce Stierlin.  She has devoted herself to the state organization for many years.  California State Racing Pigeon Organization members probably don't recall a time without Joyce in a position of service. 
To give you an idea of how long she has been involved, she started racing with her husband, Roy, in 1974, with the Sacramento RPC.  They had a team of pigeons racing from their Windancer Loft.
Back then, Joyce helped institute automated race result calculations via a computer program run on a Texas Instruments hand-held unit.  Remember those?  Joyce's background, a Management Information Systems degree from Sierra College and 30 years as a computer programmer-analyst and manager of large computer projects, armed Joyce well to take on the calculation task.  Were any of us actually thinking of automating race results back then?  That was a brilliant step into the future to make lives easier on the finish-line-figuring duties.
Joyce co-founded the Auburn RPC in the greater Sacramento area.  It was during that time period that she managed the High Sierra Classic Loft for 3 of the 4 years that the event was sponsored by the Auburn Club.  This lady is pigeon devoted!
Not one to "rest on her laurels," she progressed to serving as the secretary of the Auburn Club, the Camellia City Combine, the NORCAL Concourse and the California State Racing Pigeon Organization (CSRPO) - and that has been going on since 1978.  Are you picturing the Eveready Battery Rabbit yet?
And still, that is not where she stopped!  In the state organization role, she was able to simplify communication with the group by instituting the CSRPO Email Group and database to promote pigeon racing by distributing email flyers to all CSRPO members with email addresses on file.  As a result, 60% of the membership was included in those communications, which was a faster and more efficient way to transmit important and entertaining information.  Members were informed about upcoming events, lost/found birds, racing equipment for sale, and memorial services for flyers that passed.
Joyce currently serves as statistician for Camellia City Combine.  She uses WinSpeed© to merge clocking data from 4 area clubs.  She has worked with Mike Tobin on several occasions, documenting WinSpeed© bugs and beta-test Mike's resolutions.
In 2014, Joyce joined the AU Board of Directors as the Mountain Zone Director.  She intended to assist the eWinspeed© effort and, in fact, has volunteered as technical support for WinSpeed© desktop issues since August 2016, fielding an average of 15 calls in a month!
As a technical advisor for WinSpeed© and National Database software, she has been a tremendous asset in assisting in the development of database changes and providing WinSpeed© support.  Additionally, she has analyzed and documented technical requirements for progressing to eWinspeed©.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Backyard Poultry 4-part series, written by Kenny Coogan

AU members were interviewed for this series.  
This segment is from the June/July 2017 issue.
Find publication information at

This segment is from the August/September 2017 issue.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Homeschoolers and Racing Pigeons

The AU took part in the Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati earlier this year.  As a result of that participation, some homeschool families were ready to check out homing pigeons for a potential youth project. 

Area AU members’ contact information was provided to families that requested more information.  As a result, Springfield, Ohio member, Doug Snyder, was approached by a mother requesting additional information. 

Doug did a classroom style presentation at his loft.  “Class materials” included racing pigeon books, periodicals, handling of young birds, handling birds of all ages, and ended with students taking part in a bird release.  This hands-on approach generated many interesting questions, which produced two very enjoyable hours in his day.