It was proving to be a beautiful day for NJ Audubon’s 1st annual “NJ Young Birders Conference” on March 24, 2019. As with any first-ever event we were unsure what the turnout would be but were thrilled with having 46 people attend!
The event was hosted by the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES) in Stafford Twp, NJ. Twenty-two youth attended, along with 24 parents, volunteers, and NJ Audubon and MATES staff.
We asked youth attendees to create an informational poster to share. Topics ranged from educating about beach nesting birds to counting migratory birds at official NJ Audubon migration watches to conducting stewardship activities benefiting Purple Martins and Eastern Bluebirds to banding hummingbirds banding to documenting avian biodiversity in Waretown to educating about feather anatomy, function, and evolution. It was truly inspiring to hear these young birders share their passion about birds and conservation as people visited their posters and asked questions about their projects.
Two NJ Young Birders Club alumni gave presentations. Joseph Hernandez spoke about “Life as an Environmental Educator;” a summer spent educating the public about coastal bays and wetlands. Joe reflected on the value of his internship as well as sharing his enthusiasm for nature interpretation and education. Andrew Marden, now also a field trip assistant for the NJ Young Birders Club, gave the group a challenging bird quiz stressing how important it is to be willing to speak up, make mistakes and learn from others.
Our keynote for the day was given by Tom Reed whose talk, “Birding in the 21st Century: Advice from Gen Y to Gen Z” touched upon reminding attendees to experience nature and birds in the moment without constantly being connected to technology, and perhaps more importantly about the value of mentors and integrity.
The day’s activities ended with a bird walk through Pitch Pine forest and weedy fields near the school, where we watched a few Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures soaring overhead and did a little botanizing.
Thanks to our sponsors Zeiss Sport Optics, The Stone Foundation of New Jersey, Wildside Nature Tours, Jason Kelsey-Environmental Science teacher at MATES, and NJ Audubon associate naturalists Linda Mack, Carole Hughes, and Barbara Bassett.
By Dale Rosselet Vice President of Education
and Scott Barnes All Things Birds Program Director