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 Bird Conservation Through Education TM

May 24, 2011

In This Issue
Essentials for Reaching Diverse Audiences Part IV
ABA Young Birder Summer Camps
2011 State of the Birds Report
Thanks to our BEN Bulletin sponsor:
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The Bird Education Network (BEN) was created following the February 2007 National Gathering, hosted by the Council for Environmental Education (CEE). BEN is a CEE initiative that seeks to connect and support a community of bird education professionals.


Over 3,000 individuals representing 300 organizations receive communications and engage in professional dialogue through the BEN-run Bird Education Listserv. 


A BEN Committee has been established to provide advice and guidance for this important initiative, to advance "bird conservation through education."

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Essentials for Reaching Diverse Audiences Through Birds Part IV: Mentors

by Paul Baicich  

Photo of John C. Robinson, author of Birding for Everyone

Photo of John C. Robinson, 

author of Birding for Everyone



We've already described two of the five essentials in reaching communities of diversity:


Repeated trips

Ongoing support


Mentors are the indispensable leaders or role-models who keep the interest in birds alive. What's more, unless they are highly-skilled multicultural navigators, truly effective mentors are usually from the same ethnic group as the youth or adults they inspire.
And they are predominantly adults.
These already-established leaders available to reach under-served minorities may be hard to find at first, but they are essential. In many areas they are already in place, essentially people looked up to and admired. They may currently serve as teachers, religious leaders, scout leaders, park or refuge staff, bird club officers, businesspersons (sometimes bird specialty stores) or other community leaders. What is usually necessary is an extra effort to make them not simply leaders, but leaders with a bird emphasis.
One important thing to realize is that mentors are both found and made. John C. Robinson, in his thoughtful book, Birding for Everyone, focuses on stories of individual leaders and teachers (like Les Chibana from California or Thomas Cleaver and Carlotta Hargroves from Texas,) who either had established birding skills or developed those skills while engaging adults or youngsters in ongoing bird study.
Just take a look at Dudley Edmondson's book, Black & Brown Face in America's Wild Places to find the kind of mentors - many who are bird-driven men and women- who can inspire.
A mentor is not necessarily an idol. That kind of person, by definition, can often be aloof or unavailable. What is most helpful in a mentor is a helping hand, an engaged instructor who is  accessible.

Sometimes what works well are seasonally sequential outings (our last issue's theme) that are scheduled and run by the same inspiring mentors. It might a four-season series: IMBD (spring), a nest box project (early summer), The Big Sit (fall), and a CBC or CBC4kids (winter).

In our next BEN Bulletin, we will have part V of our seven-part series, considering the importance of "Colleagues."

ABA Young Birder Summer Camps

by Chip Clouse

The American Birding Association is offering two fun-filled and educational birding camps for teens, aged 13-18. With the Rocky Mountains and Rio Grande as the backdrop, these are not your run-of-the-mill summer camps. They are laying the strong foundation for the future naturalists and conservationists who attend.


Camp Colorado (June 25 to July 2) will focus on the birds found in the diverse habits in south-central Colorado. Hosted at the Catamount Institute's mountain campus, home base is in beautiful mixed conifer/aspen forest with streams and ponds at the base of Pike's Peak - just outside of Woodland Park, CO. Some of the regional target species include Williamson's Sapsucker - a camp resident, Brown-capped Rosy-Finch, American Dipper, and a search for White-tailed Ptarmigan. Instructors include Jennie Duberstein and Bill Schmoker.  More information can be found at

Camp Lower Rio Grande Valley (July 9 - 16) will be based out of the air-conditioned bunkhouse at Estero Llano Grande State Park, one of the World Birding Centers, just outside of Weslaco, TX. Known to birders internationally, the LRGV is home to some of the most sought after target species in the US - Green Jays, Plain Chachalacas, and Altamira Orioles. We will concentrate on learning about the Valley's various habitat types and looking for associated birds, bugs, herps and more with Roy Rodriguez, Liz Gordon, and some of the Valley's finest birders and naturalists. More information can be found at

There are a few spaces available in each camp. Please inform any enthusiastic young birders you know, send your kids or grandkids, or consider sponsoring a young birder from your local bird club. For more information on other ABA programs for young birders, visit



2011 State of the Birds Report

This year's report provides the nation's first assessment of the distribution of birds on public lands and helps public agencies identify which species have significant potential for conservation in each habitat. The state of our birds is a measurable indicator of how well we are doing as stewards of our environment.

The signal is clear. Greater conservation efforts on public lands and waters are needed to realize the vision of a nation sustained economically and spiritually by abundant natural resources and spectacular wildlife.


To download the 2011 State of the Birds 2011: Report on Public Lands and Waters, click here.  

BEN: Connecting Bird Educators TM
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