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Young Birders Network aims to fledge teen birders

Photo by Chris Wood
A group of teens bird watching at a Cornell Young Birders event this past July.

Teen birders now have a place to go online to connect with peers and drill down into a wealth of birding resources, as well as explore college and career opportunities.

The Young Birders Network, launched by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Ohio's Black Swamp Bird Observatory, serves as a hub for the many birding clubs for young people sprouting up across the country, while providing an online community for teens to share information and learn more about birding.

"Teen birders are often unsure of how to turn their hobby into a meaningful career," said biology major Hope Batcheller '14, who is also a Young Birders Network coordinator. "This site answers many of their frequently asked questions."

The Young Birders Network aggregates what teens need to plug into their local birding scene, meet their birding peers and delve deeper into the world of birding. These include:

  • a directory of young birding clubs, blogs and Facebook groups, events and conferences across the country;
  • articles and links to resources about the many ways a passion for birding can turn into a college major and career, from ornithology and conservation biology to art and computer science; and
  • a custom eBird portal for easy online management of birding checklists and access to all the birding tools eBird offers.

Articles on the Young Birders Network home page are written by middle school and high school students, Cornell students and eBird and Black Swamp Observatory professionals; they create a forum for teens to interact with college and adult birders. And for teens who don't find a birding club near them, the Young Birders Network offers a toolkit for starting their own club.

"Since Black Swamp Bird Observatory launched the Ohio Young Birders Club in 2006, much of our efforts have focused on providing information and assistance to other groups interested in starting a similar program for youth," said Kimberly Kaufman, executive director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. "The opportunity to work with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on the Young Birders Network is a dream come true."

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John Carberry