Friday, November 20, 2009

Who Says Big Girls Don't Cry

Kim writes: I have been totally swamped (Black Swamped to be exact!) since the Ohio Young Birders Conference a week ago, and I feel really guilty for not posting anything about this amazing event yet. I'm working on a post to fill you in on all the great things that took up my time this week, and I hope it will explain why I haven't said a peep about this monumental event.

My friends Kevin Loughlin and Chad Williams have already posted great summaries of the conference on their blogs, and rather than duplicate efforts, I'll just share a link to their blogs and you can check them out. But, before I send you off to other eLands far away...
I'd like share some of my favorite things about the 3rd Annual Ohio Young Birders Conference.

I get so emotional on conference day. I had someone tell me once that I should be a less emotional public speaker, that when I got weepy it made me seem unprofessional. I have this tendency to want to please everyone all the time (my Mom calls it the "disease to please") and I couldn't get those remarks out of my head. So I made an effort to be more cool and controlled when I was doing public speaking. The first OYBC conference in May of 2007 completely crushed my 'play it cool' routine. In a world where the media force feeds us a constant barrage of bad "news", I just can't contain my happy tears on a day that fills every second with so much hope and joy.

The best parts of this conference are in this picture. From left to right, our conference speakers, Malkolm Boothroyd, (keynote), Sarah Winnicki, Lucas Padegimas, and Elliott Miller.

Malkolm's presentation was simply phenomenal. He spoke of the experiences he and his parents shared during their bicycle big year that took them over 13,000 carbon-free miles, tallied 548 species, and raised more than $25,000 for conservation. His talk was filled with his own stunning photographs, music, and humor, and it inspired us all to do more to reduce our own carbon footprint. I'll bet the Amish kids in the room were feeling very good about the way they roll!

Sarah Winnicki gave a talk on the conservation challenges of bringing back the California Condor. Sarah's talk was, quite simply, one of the best talks I have ever had the privilege of seeing. When she finished I told her that I'd be willing to bet that before the end of the day she'd be invited to give that talk again. (I was right!!)

Lucas Padegimas taught us all about the adorable and endangered Piping Plover. Lucas has such personality, and his presentation was peppered with his great sense of humor. It was informative and very entertaining. (especially the part about rescuing the blond who fell out of her canoe and, yeah, thought he was Australian. Hilarious!)

And finally, on the far right, our fabulous MC, Elliott Miller.
Elliott did a great job and it looks like he's on the schedule to give a full-on presentation next year! (you cannot escape, Elliott...)

Our great friends and neighbors at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge provided the space for our conference in their beautiful visitor's center.

Kevin Loughlin, owner and operator of Wildside Nature Tours and the man who spearheaded the Pennsylvania Young Birders Club, drove a LONG way to be there with us. Kevin was so impressed and inspired by our speakers that he made an incredibly generous offer to all three of them at the end of the conference. You've got to visit his blog at: Notes From the Wildside to find out what that offer was.

I was so excited that Chad Williams, (center) the driving force behind the recently launched Indiana Young Birders Club (IYBC), was willing to make the long drive to join us! Check out his blog post about the conference at:
Birding: A Growing Obsession. Chad was accompanied by his son, Ceth, (left) and IYBC partner, Rob Ripma, (right). Doesn't Ceth look great in his Nikon cap, donated by our friends and OYBC supporters at
Nikon Sport Optics! Every conference attendee went home with one of these cool caps and a great lens cloth, courtesy of Nikon! Nikon also made a generous contribution that helped make it possible for us to fly Malkolm in from Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Our sincere gratitude to Mike Freiberg and Nikon Sport Optics for making our conference a smashing success! Check out the Nikon blog at: Birding to The EDG

Did you ever see such beautiful smiles?! Maddie, the proud winner of the Stokes Sandpiper Spotting Scope donated by Eagle Optics, poses with her Grandmother, Susan Evanoff. Get this...I invited Maddie up to help draw the winning ticket for the scope...and she drew her own ticket! The look on her face was priceless!

Another happy winner, Sara Werley, shows off her new Vortex Skyline Spotting Scope, also donated by Eagle Optics. While the tickets to win the Sandpiper scope were given to each student for free, we sold tickets for the Vortex scope and this helped raise $320 for the OYBC! Our heartfelt thanks to Ben Lizdas and Eagle Optics for their support of the conference! Check out the Eagle Optics blog here.

My adorable Goddaughter, Olivia Burton, came to the conference. I count every day that I get to see Olivia as one of my best days ever! She's 10 years old and is already an amazing birder. One of my favorite things about birding with Olivia is watching as the adults we encounter kindly ask her what birds she's been seeing. I love to watch their reaction as this 'kid' very articulately lists the species, how long ago we saw each bird, and pinpoints locations. Girls Rule!

The lovely Christine Lotenero poses with the Bird Bingo game she won in one of the door prize drawings. We were able to share a ton of prizes with conference attendees thanks to a whole host of generous donors. (see list at the end of this post). Christine created some great OYBC buttons and magnets and donated them to the club as a fundraiser! Buttons are $2 and magnets $3. They're available in the BSBO gift shop, and they'd make great stocking stuffers! She also created the Tony Hess Memorial Education Fund that helped make the conference possible. The fund will also provide scholarship monies to help members of the OYBC advance their knowledge of birds. Although I met Christine for the first time during the conference, I felt like I had known her forever. Thank you, Christine, for everything!!

My dear friend and one of BSBO's amazing volunteers, Judy Kolo-Rose, (left) did a wonderful job as the official OYBC conference photographer. Most of the photos in this post are Judy's handiwork.
I hate having my picture taken with Judy; she's so gorgeous!

Something that's becoming an OYBC Conference tradition is the great food, and this year was no exception. Julie Shieldcastle led the Lovely Lunch Ladies in preparing and serving a delicious hot lunch. Left to right - Julie Shieldcastle, Debbie Sawvel, Robin Tener, Christine Lotenero, and Jeanine Van Der Laar. Thank you lovely lunch ladies!

My husband, mentor, teacher, friend, and hero, Kenn Kaufman. Kenn put together a great photo ID quiz, and another of my favorite things about the conference was watching the students huddled around the 10 photos all day workin 'em out. The winner, Michael Miller, of Holmes County, was the only person who correctly identified a young Red-shouldered Hawk in flight. Michael went home with a four-volume set of Kaufman Field Guides.

Here are the two people who make everything we do at the Ohio Young Birders Club possible. Delores Cole and John Sawvel are two of the most remarkable people I have ever met. Their dedication, commitment, talent, and generosity are behind all the OYBC's accomplishments. Delores and John ~ when I count my blessings, I count you both twice!

And finally, thank you to the following list of volunteers and donors for their generous support: Karen Zach, Paula Lozano, Robert Hershberger, Laura Bonneau, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Audubon Society of Ohio, Nikon Sport Optics, Eagle Optics, Tony Hess Memorial Fund, Kaufman Field Guides, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Jan Ranahan, Cheryl Harner, Greater Mohican Audubon Society, Barnside Creamery, Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Debbie Sawvel, Robin Tener, Northwest Ohio Behavioral Health Ltd., Time & Optics Ltd., Roots Poultry, Inc., Jeanine Van Der Laar, Wildlife Garden, The Wild Bird Center, Birdz-I Nature Photography, Community Market, Kirtland Bird Club, Wildside Nature Tours, Wild Birds Unlimited Toledo store, Black Diamond Inc., Titgemeiers Inc., Key Bank Foundation.


  1. OMG Kim, thanks so much for the very well written post about the event, including a picture of us and mentioning our new club! You are just to, to nice! Do you think I could Photo Shop about 40 pounds off of me? People are going to start calling me slim!