Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Biggest Week In American Birding Sponsorship Flock!

By all estimations, the Biggest Week In American Birding was a total success. The amount of positive feedback from this, our inaugural year, was tremendous! The number of new birders we generated was exactly the reward we all hoped for. ---and it was all made possible by some very generous support from our sponsors.

Their generous support from Leica Sport Optics provided the foundation we needed to pull off an event of this magnitude. Leica not only makes a superb product, they hire superb people as well. The team from Leica was phenomenal. Jeff Bouton and Cameron Cox were with us throughout the entire 11-day stretch, and Jeff Gordon and Laura Kammermeier were there through the early/soggy portion of the “week.” The team helped with every facet of the event. If there was a task that needed done, a Leica team member was there to offer a hand.

Ron Miller and Lynne Domokos and the entire staff at OurGuest Inn & Suites did so much for us that I hardly know where to begin. Ron and Lynne offered complete support of the “birding thing” right from the start. Their fast and furious support was such a huge dose of inspiration and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

The American Birding Association helped promote this event in a major way with extensive (and totally sexy) coverage in the January 2010 edition of BIRDING Magazine. The ABA held a board meeting and hosted their annual membership meeting in the area as well, helping to draw more participants from across the country.
Our friends at Schaffner Publications created, printed, and distributed 6000 copies of a beautiful Biggest Week visitors guide. They also offered tons of coverage in the local papers as well. A great spread in The Beacon featuring a gorgeous photo of a Black-throated Blue Warbler by Brian Zwiebel, brought people out to see what this birding thing was all about. Many thanks to John Schaffner and Angie Adair for their tremendous support.

If you picked up one of the Biggest Week registration packets, you were probably surprised to find a very special piece of “swag” inside. John Robinson donated 1000 copies of his wonderful and very important book, Birding For Everyone: Encouraging People of Color to Become Birdwatchers. John gave a program, led field trips, and signed copies of his book too.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Birder’s World Magazine, and Eagle Optics, all offered generous support with promotions, advertising, and on the ground assistance as well. They also survived the “vendor pit” we attempted that quickly reminded us of why this area was historically referred to as The Great Black Swamp. We considered having a mud wrestling contest/fundraiser, but everyone chickened out because it was too cold. Oh well, maybe next year… ; )

Jen Brumfield designed our fabulous logo, the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau provided generous financial support (as well as donating many volunteer hours!), Time & Optics, Miller Boat Line, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Nikon Sport Optics, Brian Zwiebel, Marblehead Peninsula, Port Clinton, and Oak Harbor Chambers of Commerce, all supported the event in important ways as well.

Many bloggers participated and blogged about the event. Mike Bergin, of 10,000 Birds, gave his program, Around The World In 80 Blogs, and people loved it! Thanks to all the bloggers who shared the magic of this area through their sites.

And finally, to the communities along this remarkable Lake we call Erie…
Thank you for embracing this wonderful pastime and the birds that are at the center of it. Thank you for supporting the habitat these birds depend on for their survival and for understanding that, if we all work together, we can ensure that future generations will enjoy these winged wonders that captivate and fascinate us with their extraordinary colors, their beautiful songs, and the amazing journeys they endure each year…stopping by to delight us on the way.

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