“We’ll never look at birds the same way.”
Thanks to a grant from the Kaytee Avian Foundation and generous donations from Barbara Bessey and Vicky DeLoach, we held a Birds, Careers and Conservation Youth Workshop at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on April 24th and 25th. Students and staff from every Lab department participated in hosting sixteen urban youth and their eight educators/chaperones from cities across the country! Youth, who were selected through competitive applications/interviews, explored birds, careers in conservation science and paths to higher education. As always, we received many outstanding applications by students, and it was extremely tough for us to whittle down the list according to our available space and funding.
Students participated in a wide array of activities throughout the workshop including an in-depth tour of Macaulay Library with Martha Fischer, Greg Budney, Matt Medler, and Brad Walker. Youth learned about video editing and sound archiving, and got to record their own sounds and listen to audio in “surround sound.” Participants also loved hearing about the Elephant Listening Project from Peter Wrege and playing a fun bird game with Emma Greig.
On the Cornell Campus students received an exciting tour of the Boyce Thompson Institute from one of the Institute’s researchers, Michelle Cilia. In addition, no visit to Cornell is complete without ice-cream from the newly refurbished Cornell Dairy Bar, so after lunch at Appel Commons and great campus tours from students, workshop participants enjoyed the famous frozen delights at Stocking Hall. Later, they learned about web programming with Lisa Larson, got a taste of the adversity facing the world’s biodiversity from Gemara Gifford, and explored conservation in the neotropics and the value of the arts in conservation from Eduardo Iñigo-Elias.
Master quilter Elsie Dentes showed participants how to have hands-on fun with the creative arts through mixed-media collages, and from dusk till darkness the students, many of whom had never walked through woods before, experienced a night walk in silence through Sapsucker Woods (they heard huge choruses of peepers!).
Some more photos by Diane Tessaglia-Hymes and Marta del Campo:
For more direct interaction with wildlife, on Friday morning participants learned all about bird banding from David Bonter, Shailee Shah, and Taylor Heaton. Then they checked out the Museum of Vertebrates with Charles Dardia, and got back outside for a fantastic birding walk with Matt Young. Robyn Bailey supplemented the outing with a display of the great world of birds’ nests.
To provide some insight into the college experience at a university like Cornell, three current undergraduates (Seth Inman, Evan Barrientos, and Paige Roosa) spoke about their past four years in Ithaca, and Anthony Dicembre from Cornell Admissions taught them about what’s involved in applying to Cornell (and other four-year universities). Finally, participants learned about Bioacoustics and listened to the ocean with Ashik Rahaman, whose stories were so enthralling that students stayed for over an hour after the end of the workshop instead of choosing free time! We ended the workshop with a picnic at Taughannock Falls Park and an impromptu hike to one of Ithaca’s great natural attractions.
More photos by Marta del Campo: