Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Ohio Young Birders Club Conference

From the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Kim writes: Today felt like old times. When the Ohio Young Birders Club was younger itself I spent A LOT of time on the phone with parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and neighbors -- trying to arrange transportation for students still too young to drive. Last January, I took the position as the executive director of the Observatory that founded the club, and since then I've had to dish many of those responsibilities off to the OYBC coordinators, John Sawvel and Delores Cole. John and Delores are great, and it's very rewarding to see the club continue to grow and reach more and more young people while I'm doing other BSBO business. But, I have to admit that sometimes it's hard to accept that the club is not "my baby" anymore. Well, for a few hours today, I got my baby back! I just happened to be the one available to deal with this, and it felt so good to be back in the business of making great experiences happen for young birders. Here's how it went...

E-mail comes in from the Aunt of one of our student members who REALLY wants to come to the conference this Saturday and then go on the observatory's pelagic trip on Sunday. This young birder lives in Parma, and his Aunt can't bring him all the way to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge where the conference is taking place. Hmm...okay, I know that there are two OYBC members from Avon and their Mom is bringing them to the conference; Avon is about 40 minutes from Parma. Okay, call Avon Mom and see if Parma Aunt can get her young birder to Avon, could Avon Mom bring Parma young birder to the conference. Avon Mom is one of the nicest people on the planet, so of course she said yes.

The visitors' center at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

But, Avon Mom can only stay for the early part of the conference and then she has to go back to Avon due to a prior commitment. hmm...Now what? The boys really want to stay and go on the afternoon field trip (part of the conference), and then go on the pelagic trip on Sunday. But, that means they'll need a place to stay and something to do on Saturday night. hmm...okay, how about this.

Kenn and I (and the whole BSBO gang!) are going to the Toledo Naturalists' Association (TNA) banquet on Saturday night. The banquet is always a great time and this year Julie Zickefoose is the featured speaker!! We had already arranged for two of our conference speakers to attend with us, and I know the other boys would really enjoy seeing Julie's talk. Unfortunately, the deadline for banquet reservations was two days ago. hmm.. I wonder if...

Okay, call my friend Jan Dixon from TNA and ask her (and by ask, I mean beg) if she can still squeeze in three more people for the banquet. Jan being the total sweetheart that she is, said, "Oh, it will be so wonderful to have young birders at the banquet; of course they can come!"

So, we'll all go from the conference to the TNA banquet in the Bird Bus, then take the bus to Cleveland on Sunday morning for the pelagic, and the boys' families will pick them up at the boat dock when we return.

The BSBO Bird Bus

*Whew* And that was a simple one. Most of the time it involves a lot more kids and a lot more locations to get them from and to and then back again. It can take days to arrange to get everyone on the club's monthly field trips. But, it's totally worth it! We are richly rewarded for our efforts in ways that I cannot even describe.

This Saturday we will watch as four teenagers stand before a rapt audience and deliver presentations on birds and bird conservation. We will watch as people from five states come together to hear their message. We will watch with tear-filled eyes as those witnessing this for the first time have their faith in this great nation and the future of its natural resources restored. And every ounce of effort that it took to get us to this point will fade to insignificance--and we will be restored ourselves.


  1. You go, girl! I love the bird bus and how it can help you get these young people together. Thanks for setting a great example.

  2. Thank you so much, Lydia. Since I never plan to have kids of my own, I can honestly say that the Ohio Young Birders Club is the best thing I will ever be part of creating.

    I love the bird bus too! An amazing couple who really believes in the Observatory's work with young people donated the money for the bus!! Isn't that incredible?! Every time I drive it, or watch it pull out of the parking lot filled with happy people, it makes me feel so blessed!

  3. :-) :-) :-)

    wooo!! See you there!! I'm gonna go early and see the ZOO!!

  4. Don't you love it when a plan comes together?

    Best wishes for a successful conference, wish I could be there!