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The kids are alright…

March 2, 2009
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The first years I spent as a birder, back when I was a skinny awkward pre-teen, I plied my interest alone among my friends. Sure I had my dad, and that was great, not least of which because he could drive, but like many young birders before me and since, my journey was largely a solitary one. So when at 14, I was able to attend Camp Chiricahua, the Victor Emanuel Nature Tour summer camp specifically for young birders.

It was a great opportunity to meet some kids my age who had the birding bug as bad as I had. In the time since I remember a few faces, even fewer names from that camp, and I hope those kids that trekked across Arizona are still birding. Or if they lost touch with it for a while like I did once High School rolled around. The truth is that there just aren’t that many kid birders.

The bird bug hit me twice fortunately, and upon my return to the world of birding 10 years after I first put down the binoculars things hadn’t changed much. I was ten years older but I was still in the bottom percentile of birders by age. This can be somewhat frustrating. So I want to encourage and promote young birders at every opportunity, not only because having more interesting parties involved in future conservation issues is a positive thing for bird populations, because obviously it is, but mostly because the having a strange hobby is a whole lot more fun when you have like-minded and like-aged people to share it with you. And that community is a great means to the ultimate environmental end. Plus it’s fun, man.

So when my friend and boss at the NC Science Museum Becky (who just so happens to be the new president of the Wake County (Raleigh) Audubon Society) told me that she was starting up a Young Naturalist’s Club, I wanted in. I wanted to help, and as a youngish birder (though not nearly so young as I used to be) who was in the very same position as the kids we’re trying to reach, I thought I might have some useful insight.

Anyway, we had our first meeting yesterday afternoon. While the awful weather conspired to keep a few prospective kids away, we had a fair turnout and we put together a few really cool field trips including herp walks and a Big Day Birdathon in the spring. This could be the start of something worthwhile for kid birders in the triangle area and who knows, across the Carolinas maybe? We’re certainly not there yet but there some great organizations that do some great things to aspire towards and this is a niche that needs to be filled.

So I’ll keep this blog posted with upcoming news of this organization. It should be a fun group to be involved with.

And yes, I will be using this exact same title for a post on the NBN tomorrow. The creative juices were running low on this day…

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