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Focus on Students

Stretching Their Wings

article spread
by Pat Leonard
Photograph by Jessie Barry

For three jam-packed days in August, 10 teen birders came to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for our Young Birders Event. Each year we gather some of North America’s top high-school-age birders here to encourage them in their hobby and show where it might lead. This year’s bright young birders came away thrilled with what one called a “life-changing” experience. The only downside, said another, was having to spend time sleeping instead of birding.

When they weren’t tackling tough field identifications, students toured the Lab, visited the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, and learned from Macaulay Library experts about how to record video and sounds of birds. Scientists and graduate students shared stories of cutting-edge science and how they turned their passion for birds into rewarding careers.

Eric Gulson, 18, of Veracruz, Mexico, arrived not just for the event, but ready to start his first semester at Cornell, where he joins two previousyear’s participants. There’s a method to our madness—we get first crack at training future ornithologists and conservation leaders. Gulson is already lending his knowledge to our eBird project as a work-study student.

Sixteen-year-old Sam Brown, of Chickisaw Trail, Oklahoma, said his “ultimate ornithological dream” would be to conserve the prairie habitat and birds of southern Oklahoma. David Weber, 17, of Newfield, New Jersey, said “I expect birds to be my life in the future.”

And we’d like to help. The Young Birders Event happens every year in August. If you know of a promising young birder in grades 9 through 12, tell them about it or contact Jessie Barry at jb794@cornell.edu to find out more.

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