I still remember the very first words he said to me when I finally got up the nerve to call him on the phone. In a very deep (and very sexy) voice he said, simply ~ “This is Kenn.” It took me a couple of seconds to recover and respond because my heart was saying, "This is the love of your life!" I love it when my heart's right!!
After the initial “wow moment” our conversations deepened, and we shared things with each other that we’d never shared with another soul. I was totally in love with him after the first two or three conversations---and then he told me about the Guia! He was fighting to get it published and facing some pretty serious adversity. The costs were mounting, and he sounded determined, but battle weary. I was incredibly moved by his vision and dedication (fueled by stubbornness) and I gave him every bit of positive energy I had and expressed my total -- all out belief in this book and what it could do! Well, obviously Kenn and good prevailed, the Guia became a reality, and I fell completely in love with this amazing man!
Inspired by an idea "borrowed" from Tucson Audubon, I developed a Guia donor program through the Observatory. BSBO purchases copies of the book from the publisher at a special rate. People "purchase" a book at a special donor rate of $12, sign a name plate identifying them as the donor, and BSBO ships the books off to several partners across the U.S. and Mexico to be used in programs that reach out to our Latin American brothers and sisters. The whole idea is that if we can create awareness and appreciation for birds among this huge audience, it's that much more support for conservation. You can learn more about the program--and donate a book!--through the BSBO website.
One of our biggest partners is the Sonoran Joint Venture. Through their Education and Outreach Coordinator, Jennie Duberstein, we have arranged for hundreds of donated books to be shipped to SJV. SJV has offered a number of training workshops over the past few years, focusing on topics such as how to be a bird guide, basic bird identification, and bird monitoring. The following is an excerpt from an article written by Jennie for our Observatory newsletter. Jennie writes: Initially we went to these workshops armed with a stack of ten copies of the English version of the Kaufman Guide to the Birds of North America (generously donated by the Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt Company), a hodge-podge of other English language North American field guides, and a handful of donated pairs of binoculars of varying quality.
Although having field guides in English made it challenging, workshop participants still gained basic skills in how to use a field guide and binoculars to identify and monitor birds. But when you don't have your own field guide or binoculars, it makes it very difficult to put your new skills to use.
The publication of the Kaufman Guía de Campo a las Aves de Norteamérica has provided the SJV (and Spanish-speakers everywhere) with a fabulous new tool. Participants in our workshops are now able to not only look at the pictures in a field guide, but read about habitat, behavior, diet, and other important life history information about birds. And thanks to the generous donations of members and supporters of Black Swamp Bird Observatory, the SJV has been able to provide each workshop participant with his or her own copy of the Guía.
How cool is that?!! I feel so blessed and so honored to play a small role in getting the Guia out there and into the hands of people who might just change the world.
To date, more than 500 copies of the book have been donated! 500 copies!! A huge thank you to Kenn, Jennie D, Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Tucson Audubon, and all of the donors who believed in this book and its potential enough to be a part of our mission!