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    Young Birders Wanted! First-ever Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival Young Birder Track

    From ABA Young Birder blog coordinator Jennie Duberstein, comes this announcement regarding the upcoming Lower Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival:

    –=====–

    Last November I had the opportunity to co-lead field trips at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. Although I’d been to the area several times before, going as part of the festival was a completely different experience. From the impressive lineup of leaders and speakers (impressive both in terms of knowledge and experience, as well as sheer numbers) to the fantastic expo to the enthusiastic participants, not to mention the unique birds, butterflies, habitats of the region, it didn’t take long for me to realize that this is a special festival.

     One of the participants on one of the trips I led was a young birder from Delaware (read her account of her festival experience here: http://birding.typepad.com/youngbirders/2012/08/the-rio-grande-valley-birding-festival-2011.html). This young woman’s enthusiasm and interest caught the attention of everyone she interacted with, and after the festival field trip coordinator Mary Gustafson asked me if I’d be interested in helping to put together a special young birder “track” for the 2012 festival. We sat down last December and sketched out some ideas for how it could work, and the next thing I knew, the first-ever Young Birder Track at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival was on the books, co-sponsored by the ABA and Leica Sport Optics.

    Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

    Cameron Cox/Leica Sport Optics

     The Young Birder Track (YBT) includes field trips, evening programs, and more, just for young birders. We will visit renowned sites such as Anzalduas County Park, South Padre Island, Estero Llano Grande State Park, and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. A rock star slate of co-leaders will join the group over the course of the four days, including ABA President Jeff Gordon, Cameron Cox and Jen Brumfield (Leica Sport Optics), Michael O’Brien and Louise Zemaitis (VENT), and Bill Thompson III (Birdwatcher’s Digest), among others. It is truly going to be a one-of-a-kind experience.

    Green Parakeet-Jen Brumfield

    Jen Brumfield/Leica Sport Optics

     All that we need now? A few more young birders! This is where you, gentle readers, come in. We’re down to the wire. There is just one more day to register for the festival, and we still have space left in the young birder track, so we’re asking for help in spreading the word. Do you know of a young person who might be interested? Please let them know about this opportunity. Are you attending the festival yourself? Why not bring along a young birder!

    Plain Chacalaca

    Cameron Cox/Leica Sport Optics

    For more information, including how to register, see details below, visit the festival website or contact Jennie Duberstein, ABA Young Birder Program Liaison. Space is limited, so register soon!

    Fee $450 / Thursday 8 Nov – Sunday 11 Nov 2012 / Ages: 13-18

    The American Birding Association, Leica Sport Optics, and the RGV Birding Festival have teamed up to offer a stellar opportunity for young naturalists. This first-ever Young Birder Track will be conducted in conjunction with the Festival, utilizing its resources and events, but with custom trips and programs for young birder participants. Learn about the natural history and ecology of the region, find out about careers in birding and conservation, and meet other young birders from around the country, as well as pro leaders, authors, and artists, all while seeing the Rio Grande Valley’s unparalleled birds, butterflies, habitats, and more.

     Young Birder Track participants do not need an accompanying adult in order to participate (although adults are very welcome to attend the Festival!)

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    Nate Swick

    Nate Swick

    Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog. A long-time member of the bird blogosphere, Nate has been writing about birds and birding at The Drinking Bird since 2007, but can also be found writing regularly at 10,000 Birds. In the non-digital world, he's an environmental educator and interpretive naturalist. Nate lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children, who are not yet aware that they are being groomed to be birders.
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