It all began in May of 2006 when six young birders met with staff from Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) and many other volunteers to discuss forming a club for young people with an interest in birds and nature. What they helped create that day was the Ohio
Young Birders Club (OYBC): a program for young people ages 12-18, and a first of its kind in this country. Each month student members participate in field trips in various locations around the state. Students also conduct many service projects, including establishing bird feeding stations and observation areas at schools, building nest boxes for Prothonotary Warblers, and constructing a nesting platform for Ospreys. In the last three years, students have raised more than $12,000 through the OYBC’s annual Big Sit, and half of the proceeds are donated to help supporting habitat restoration projects in Ohio.
In recent years, the OYBC has developed regional chapters as we continue to do all that we can to help connect young people with birds and nature, and bring them together with other like-minded young people from around the state. This year, we launched a new and more interactive website, and we plan to add a young birder blog very soon!
Since that fateful day in 2006, the OYBC has evolved into a model for youth birding programs around the country. The BSBO staff has assisted in creating similar programs in more than a dozen states.
In 2012, a partnership began between BSBO and Cornell Lab of Ornithology (CLO). Together, we created the Young Birders Network (YBN). The YBN aims to provide resources for young birders to connect and learn, while giving their adult advocates resources to encourage and support. Though the network is primarily geared for ages 12-18, younger birders and college students alike may also find relevant resources.
So many wonderful things have happened since that first meeting back in 2006, and we could not have accomplished this without the support of our OYBC members and supporters.
Here’s to many more years of encouraging, educating, and empowering our youth conservation leaders!
OYBC YBN Feature Article for Cornell Lab of Ornithology