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 Bird Conservation Through Education TM

December 21, 2011

In This Issue
Setting Examples: And Now for Her
Scholarships for Students
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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Setting Examples: And Now for "Heroes"   
by Paul J. Baicich

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Roger Tory Peterson
Photo Credit:  Roger Tory Peterson Institute

In the last issue of the BEN Bulletin we discussed the place of individual mentors and role-models for bird educators. The issue had come up a number of times at the Heinz NWR diversity meeting in October, and the article attempted to differentiate the two categories.

The place of heroes or idols also arose at the Heinz event, but we didn't go into details on the characteristics of a "hero" for bird educators. We can do so now, however.

First a quick review of the other two categories: the mentor is the friendly guide, one who gives support or a helping hand. The role-model is one step removed, an admirable individual leader or example whose work or behavior can be imitated by others. Furthermore, while mentoring is optional, an activity specifically chosen by the mentor, the role-model is actually chosen or identified by others.

While there may be some overlap in these two categories - e.g., Mary may be a bird-education mentor for some people and a role-model for others - there should be some effort to separate the concepts, at least in our discussions.

If both experiences are essential, but separate, how about our heroes?

Well, like the mentor and the role-model, the hero (or idol) is almost always an adult. The mentor and role-model can be a functional peer, but the hero has usually accumulated the wisdom of years and experience.

In addition, what separates the hero from the other two categories, in the realm of bird education and elsewhere, is a case of distance. A hero, virtually by definition, might be aloof or unavailable, put on some pedestal. That hero doesn't even have to be alive! For example, my bird hero could very well be Roger Tory Peterson, Rosalie Edge, Margaret Morse Nice, or Ira N. Gabrielson, all pioneer bird educators or activists, but all very deceased.

Finally, we probably all need heroes. They are people who help define our highest aspirations and values as bird educators.

So, the places for these leaders - of supporting mentors, excellent role-models, and, now, necessary heroes - should combine to help advance bird and environmental education, but in unique and different ways. 


Scholarships for College Students Offered by OWAA

Bird StampOutdoor Writers Association of America will be accepting applications for its Bodie McDowell scholarship program. Application deadline is March 1, 2012. Scholarships are for the 2012-13 academic year. Established in 1966, more than $100,000 in scholarships has been awarded since 2002. Approximately $16,000 in scholarships will be awarded in 2012. Each scholarship includes a one-year student membership with OWAA.

The Bodie McDowell scholarship program is open to undergraduate and graduate-level college students pursuing a degree in an outdoor communications field. Aspiring college bird educators should take special note of this opportunity. Undergraduate applicants must be entering their junior or senior years of study; graduate student applicants must have at least one remaining year of study.

Benefits of OWAA Student membership include a one-year subscription to OWAA's magazine, Outdoors Unlimited, containing craft improvement and communication news articles; access to member discounts and job listings; the chance to earn conference registration scholarships and more.

Applications for the 2012 award are
available online. For applications, deadlines and additional information about the Bodie McDowell scholarship and other awards available through OWAA, visit For questions/comments or to request information for a student you know, call OWAA at 406-728-7434 or email


BEN Wishes You a Wonderful Holiday Season!
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Photo by Jim Williams

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