Four of CTT’s staff, including President and CEO, Mike Lanzone, participated in various young birder programs over the summer. Not only is it something they all enjoy, but it’s part of the DNA of the company that’s constantly pushing the envelope of what’s possible in wildlife research. Maybe it makes sense, then, that they look forward to spending time with the next generation of nature enthusiasts. Read on to find out more about their exciting times!
Camp Avocet, A Shorebird Bonanza on the Delaware Bay!
In August the American Birding Association’s Camp Avocet, which is based out of Lewes, Delaware, visited Cape May for a day of birding in one of America’s most iconic migration hotspots. CTT’s Mike Lanzone joined the ABA’s Holly Merker and her group of enthusiastic young birders for their day in Cape May. Moving between the TNC’s South Cape May Meadows Preserve and other points around the island, the young birders learned about CTT’s work tracking birds, as well as engaged with Mike on a personal level, trading birding sightings and working through the finer points of bird ID.
Part of what drives me to help out with the ABA camps is helping to inspire our next generation of leaders. I grew up in an area without many young people that were into birds or even nature. Several of the of the local birding and research organizations took me under their wing when I was a teenager, I believe that really helped shape my future. To be able to give back some of my time doing the same and to spend some time getting to know these kids is fun and rewarding for me. I enjoy being able to share my story from a young birder- to young research scientist- to entrepreneur- to CEO of a wildlife technology company. Its hopefully an inspiration to some of them, and possibly it will spur them to investigate alternate career paths that they might not even be thinking of yet. For me this redefined what was ultimately possible. Part of my message- setting high but attainable goals, not setting artificial limits in what they think is possible, dreaming big and not limiting themselves to others expectations- all of these things will hopefully help them reach beyond their expectations. The groups of teenagers at these ABA camps always impress me, they are bright, very motivated teenagers and are already headed towards great things. I can’t wait till next summer to meet the next group of our future leaders!Mike Lanzone, President and CEO
Way out West: Victor Emanuel’s Camp Cascades
Also in August, our Glen Davis headed way out to the Cascades of Washington State to co-lead the long-running young birder camp by Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, in partnership with Black Swamp Bird Observatory. Glen has a long history of bird camp, having attended Camp Chiricahua (also Victor Emanuel Nature Tours) himself as a teenager, and making lifelong friends that have, among other things, competed in the World Series of Birding for over 25 years.
It’s always an absolute thrill and honor to spend quality time mentoring teen birders. To see their interests, knowledge, skill sets, and friendships expand whilst in an intensive nature camp setting sends my identity as an avian biologist back to its roots as a kid birder. Sharing this experience is a valuable reminder to us all that a continuum of topics, from the arts and cultural studies to STEM-based disciplines, has a most vital role in helping to study, conserve, appreciate, and save the natural world. In the minds and actions of the youth of today lives the realization of our dreams for tomorrow. Camp Cascades is brought forth with these concepts in mind and becomes an experience where real biophilia is fulfilled. The camp is a true encounter with the Pacific Northwest: from the outer waters of the Puget Sound where seabird rookeries and coastal rain forest communities abound; to the alpine meadows of Mount Ranier and the dramatic topography of the region where denizens of an intricate array of ecosystems are sought after. Puffins, whales, seals, and migratory waterbirds fill the first half. Then in the Cascades a myriad of wildflowers, butterflies, songbirds, and raptors are a huge part of the fun!Glen Davis, Production Technician and Staff Biologist
Hog Island Audubon Camp – Coastal Maine
In June, Andy McGann drove up to Bremen, Maine to spend a week on the instructor team at Hog Island Audubon Camp. Led by Scott Weidensaul and Dr. Sara Morris, Andy joined bird vocalization expert Matt Young of the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds and artist Catherine Hamilton for the “Adult Ornithology” course. Also in session that week was the “Coastal Maine Bird Studies for Teens” course, led by Joshua Potter and Emma Rhodes, with Raymond VanBuskirk, and bird bander extraordinaire Anthony Hill.
I reveled in the opportunity to spend a week sharing my experiences and soaking in the enthusiasm of the campers—both the adults and teens—at Hog Island. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with bird-minded folks from all over the U.S. and Canada. We talked about our personal experiences of bird discovery, and I was able to add some of things I’ve learned by way of wildlife telemetry. Literally, telemetry tech lets you see the unseeable— from the perfectly hidden nests of Canada Warblers, to the daytime haunts of the abundant-yet-hidden Northern Saw-whet Owls, to the nocturnal roosting sites of flocks of wintering Rusty Blackbirds. At ‘bird camp’ we all recognized that the Information Age has arrived for bird studies, and while we stand to learn vast sums of new knowledge, we also need to continue advocating on behalf of the birds. On this front, anyone can contribute, through any medium that stirs the soul and engages new people.Andrew J. McGann, Senior Applications Engineer
From the Mountains to the Prairies: Camp Colorado Always Delivers!
Finally, in early August David La Puma returned to the American Birding Association’s Camp Colorado again for the forth time in six years, spending a week with a group of teenagers ages 13 to 17. Based out of the YMCA of the Rockies, in Estes Park, Colorado, this camp exposes young birders to wildlife and wild landscapes across many life zones, from alpine tundra to shortgrass prairies, and everything in-between.
Every year I have the opportunity to co-lead one of these Young Birder camps, that week of my summer rises to the top of my annual highlights. Unlike these kids who are starting, or have started birding young in life, my journey was quite different. I didn’t begin to pay attention to birds until an ornithology class in college, and birding in earnest didn’t come for several years later. These teenagers are awesome; so tuned in, so excited, and so eager to learn something new during our week together. Talking technology with them is so exciting as well, since they’re already very technologically inclined, and always bring new and fresh perspectives to our conversations. Honestly, I learn as much or more from them than they do from me. And while birding is definitely a focus during camp, the birds aren’t even the best part. So many of these young people have few like-minded friends their age at home, but once they get to camp they quickly realize the critical mass of young birders. Watching them gel over the first 24-hours, and how they continue to form these intense friendships all while learning about some pretty amazing birds and habitat, is pure joy. Every year is different bird-wise, but I’ve never been to bird camp where the last day wasn’t full of happy tears and plan-making for future contacts, meetups and birding trips.David La Puma, Director of Global Market Development
I’m already looking forward to next year!
Interested in sending your young naturalist to one of these camps? Here are some links to get you started: