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The future of birding

Young Birders Event 2009

article spread
By Pat Leonard
Photograph by Susan Spear

Young Birders Bring Passion and Intensity to the Lab

Ten bright, enthusiastic young birders arrived at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the first-ever Young Birders Event, held August 6-9. They came to learn and to get a first-hand look at avenues of study and possible careers that could include their interest in birding.

The group was hosted by eBird co-leader Chris Wood, and Jessie Barry, audio assistant curator in the Cornell Lab's Macaulay Library. Chris and Jessie also host the Lab's instructional video series called "Inside Birding."

While they were here, the young birders met Cornell Lab scientists and staff, attended hands-on workshops, took field trips, and explored the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates with its many thousands of bird specimens.

The young people came hoping to get a lot out of their experience, but they also gave something back: a verve and a passion for birds and nature that infused their hosts and instructors with an equal joy in the pursuit.

Chosen from applicants across the country, these young birders will be the next generation of leaders in ornithology and conservation. Here are some of their thoughts about birds and their aspirations for the future:

Hope Batcheller, New York: "When I found an Ovenbird nest at age eight, I realized that birding could be an independent pursuit and my birding interest was fired into a passion."

Anna Buckardt, Illinois: "I can remember watching the birds at our feeders out our kitchen window as a toddler. I was interested and never stopped birding after that."

Spencer Hardy, Vermont: "My parents tell me I began 'birding' from my high chair...Now I enjoy watching interactions and behaviors of even the most common birds, for there is always something new to learn."

Nathaniel Hernandez, New Jersey: "I expect that in the future I would become an ornithologist. I see myself as person like an explorer or birds, looking into little-known species and locations."

Andrew Johnson, Michigan: "I am open to many career paths that might involve birds, anywhere from bird illustration and writing, leading tours, or doing research, to landscape architecture or environmental engineering."

Greg Lawrence, New York: "I will always go birding in the future and will do a lot of volunteer work involving birding and nature."

Nicolas Sarbanes, Maryland: "I have incorporated birding into my everyday life. Along with the mastering of identification, I have developed a strong passion for photography, and I now never leave the house without my camera."

Ted Stiritz, Arkansas: "In my mind there is no question about what my life's professions will center on: birds. I would like to earn an undergraduate degree in biology, then a masters or Ph.D. in ornithology."

Benjamin Van Doren, New York: "My dream would be to be paid to count or study birds, perhaps with a hobby of developing software or other technology related to birds in some way."

Haynes Werner, South Carolina: ""Three years ago I got my falconers license and have been flying my Red-tailed Hawk, Vesper, since. We are out in the field together nearly every day after school, and we often camp out over the weekends."