Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We interrupt this Antarctic Expedition to bring you an important message

From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kim writes: Just when you thought baby penguin pictures were imminent, I take us off topic to share some really uplifting, inspiring, and hope-inducing news for anyone who cares about the future of birds and birding.

While we haven't talked much about it on the blog (not yet!), Kenn and I devote a large portion of our time to a program called the Ohio Young Birders Club (OYBC). I won't give all the club's nitty gritty here. Just check out the website that's chock-full of information. Ohio Young Birders Club The club is something that Kenn and I helped form about 2 1/2 years ago, with the hope that we could build a community of young birders, and offer them the opportunities and experiences that would foster their interest in birds and nature. The ultimate goal being that some of the students would someday pursue careers in bird and conservation related fields.
Here are a few of my favorite field trip pictures.
Studying Virginia Rails & Soras at the Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area, in Holmes & Wayne Counties, Ohio.
This trip was sponsored by Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) and Time & Optics Ltd.

A rainy trip to search for migrants on Kelleys Island, and conduct a service project at the Glacial Grooves, which are totally cool! This trip was sponsored by our partners at Kelleys Island Audubon Club



An intense study of a single Peregrine Falcon spotted at the Funk Bottom Wildlife Area. This trip was sponsored by our partners at Greater Mohican Audubon Society.

I am often searching for ways to evaluate the success of the the program. Grantors always ask for this. Since this is a BSBO program, my Board wants to know. The media wonders. Parents too. The nature of our program makes success somewhat challenging to assess. We can cite membership figures: For example, currently, more than 100 young people are members of the club. But in the last few days, I received some information that offers perhaps the ultimate measure of our success.

I recently received three separate requests from OYBC members to include me and Kenn as references for jobs. Of course we agreed. A few days ago I received an e-mail from a researcher in Barrow, Alaska. He's studying the breeding ecology of shorebirds on the Arctic Tundra this summer, and one of our OYBC members applied for a position on the team. He was impressed by the young man's application and was following up on his references.

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a graduate student at the University of Kentucky studying the role of genetics and male phenotype in mate choice and success in Dickcissels. One of our OYBC members who will graduate from high school this year had applied for a position with her team. Impressed with the application, she was following up with a series of questions about the applicant.

And, finally, in today's mail I received a scholarship recommendation form from a foundation that one of our recently graduated OYBC members had applied to. She is planning to conduct a research project on breeding bird ecology at a large scout camp in Northern Ohio and applied for a scholarship.

I am in no way suggesting that the OYBC is solely responsible for helping to develop this level of interest in these young people. The OYBC is but a single spoke in a very impressive wheel that Ohio spins beautifully. With a thriving birding community that embraces young people, represented by the very supportive and dynamic Ohio Ornithological Society, more than 20 partnering organizations across the state of Ohio that support the OYBC, and, perhaps most importantly, some of the most impressive parents I have ever met, we will continue to encourage, educate, and empower our future conservation leaders.

The OYBC is having a major impact beyond Ohio's borders. To date, we have assisted New York, Illinois, Florida, Connecticut, Georgia, and Oklahoma in forming their own versions of the OYBC. Several other states have inquired about launching clubs too, and many are in the beginning stages of forming clubs for young people based on the success of the OYBC.

I encourage you to visit the OYBC website, and please pay special attention to the fact that adults are encouraged to join as adult supporting members for just $10 a year. For this small donation, you will receive our club's excellent newsletter (filled with articles, trip reports, artwork, and essays..all written by young birders), and help to support this very important program.

Thanks for being patient about penguin photos. I promise to make it up to you with tons of pics SOON!

5 comments:

  1. Yes, it's great to see the lives of children turned in such a way that they adopt interests that last into their adult years.
    Bravo for your efforts!

    (another proud Ohio nature-lover)_

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  2. What heartening news. If, for every threatened species, there was a newly-minted, bright-eyed, and dedicated steward, we could all afford some moments of optimism, such as those your posting afforded me tonight. Many thanks.

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  3. It's a great way to get out and connect with nature. Well done, and way to go!

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  4. Last month we (a couple of friends and I) were given the blessing from the Indiana Audubon Society (Independent from NAS) to start the first Indiana Young Birders Club... we are working very hard to get the model up and running to present to the board of directors this spring. This of course has been inspired from you OYBC... thanks! Wish us luck!

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  5. Thanks for your comments everyone!

    Chad~ I'm so excited to hear about your efforts in Indiana. Please contact me so I can connect you with a gentleman in Terra Haute who wants to help! I'd be happy to help in any way that I can as well! We've got three years under our belts now, and I'd be happy to share with you.
    You can e-mail me at: info@ohioyoungbirders.org


    Thanks, & all the best,

    Kim

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