Hot on the heels of our just completed and very successful Camp Colorado, we’re very excited to announce the ABA’s next big opportunity for young birders: a regional conference designed to bring together young birders and their mentors from a wide area in order to facilitate the sharing of ideas and information, and to build and strengthen the young birder community.
While it’s true that the internet, social media, and cell phones have all given birders, especially younger ones, the opportunity to connect as never before, there’s still no substitute for actually meeting and birding together, face to face. And it can be surprisingly difficult for that to happen, something we’d like to help change.
For our kickoff event, we’ve chosen the populous Mid-Atlantic area, where there are a wealth of active and growing young birder groups. But there’s never before been an occasion designed for them all to come together as one, until now.
So if you’re a young birder or a parent or mentor of a young birder or birders, mark your calendar for Saturday, September 22, 2012 and make plans to join us at the Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin, Delaware, for an amazing day of birding, learning, fun, and friendship. Ashland is very easily reached from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Jersey, and within an approximately 2 hour drive of Washington, DC, and New York City. Inexpensive overnight accommodations Friday night the 21st will be available on site.
The day will feature bird walks around the 242 acre preserve at Ashland, where floodplains, hillsides, and upland habitats attract a great variety of fall migrants. We’ll also spend part of the day on top of Hawk Watch Hill, where the Ashland Hawk Watch tallies thousands of raptors each autumn. Of course, migration is hugely weather dependent, but our timing puts us in position to intercept the peak of Broad-winged Hawk migration, as well some fantastic fall songbirds.
There will also be indoor activities, featuring young birder and adult presenters addressing a wide variety of cool and useful topics. Concurrent sessions for newer or more experienced young birders will allow everyone from elementary school through late teens to find things of interest. There will also be special sessions by and for parents, mentors, club coordinators.
For our keynote presentations, we’re very excited to have ABA’s Young Birder of the Year 2012, the very talented Marie McGee, and Bill Thompson III, editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest and author of The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of Eastern North America (all attendees will receive a free copy, thanks to Bill!) and The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America and recipient of the ABA’s Robert Ridgway Award for publications in field ornithology. And that, of course, is only scratching the surface of Bill’s vast talents and achievements. Bill and Marie will deliver a one-two punch that will have everyone fired up about birding and its potential to enrich and connect us all, kid or adult.
Once again, ABA’s Legacy Youth Program Sponsor, Leica Sport Optics, has come forward with generous support for this event. They’ll also be sending a number of their knowledgeable and personable birding representatives, and bringing a lot of fine optics for us to use as we scan the skies over Ashland.
Of course, there’ll be a big contingent of ABA folks there, too, including Liz and me, Bill Stewart, and George Armistead, for starters.*
And there will be an abundance of other cool stuff. Jean Woods of the Delaware Museum of Natural History will be bringing by some very cool and very rare bird study skins for us to learn from and marvel at. There will be representatives from many birding related local organizations and businesses. Most of all, there will be dozens of other young birders, local young birder hosts, The Delaware Dunlins, and numerous adult mentors. It’s going to be a great day and one we hope to repeat in other regions of North America going forward.
How much does all this cost? For young birders who are ABA members, just $15. Adult ABA members are just $25. Non-ABA members may register for $10 more. That price includes a catered lunch and admission to all bird walks and presentations.
To register, click here.
To sign up for overnight accommodations for Friday the 21st at Ashland, call LeAnn Pilger at the ABA office 800-850-2473 or 719-578-9703 extension 224.
See you in September!
*A heads up to all ABA members: our annual membership meeting will be nearby the day following this event, on Sunday September 23 at the Delaware Environmental Center in Wilmington. So if you’re in the area, or can be, you should consider making an ABA weekend out of these two events. More details soon!
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