Birder's Guide

MAY 2015

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 13 of 35

Young Birders Start-Up 12 Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | May 2015 • Two additional responses suggested we are on the right track with the quality of our feld trips and overall logistics: – 90% of the adult responders said they were "willing to drive 50 miles or more to take their children on an Iowa Young Birders feld trip." – 89% of young birders and parents combined reported being likely to "rec- ommend our trips to a friend or family member," and 98% were likely to "sign up for a future feld trip." We've used the results from this survey, along with our personal experience, to fne-tune our feld trips and develop the Iowa Young Birders Field Trip Protocol. Having this document helps us to commu- nicate about best practices with volunteer trip leaders and to stay focused on con- sistently creating positive experiences for young birders and parents. A copy of the original survey responses and our feld trip protocol document can be downloaded at Here are our top seven tips for young birder programs; choose what works best for you! 1 Understand Your Market • Do you create a free-standing organiza- tion or operate as a program or subunit of an existing organization? Many success- ful young birder groups have developed under the umbrella of an existing organi- zation such as a state ornithological so- Our Survey Thanks to a grant from the Resource En- hancement and Protection Program (REAP) of the Iowa Department of Natural Resour- ces, we were able to survey young birders and parents on 14 feld trips between April 2013 and April 2014 to assess their experi- ence and attitudes about our program. A to- tal of 50 adults (i.e., parents, grandparents) and 35 young birders completed online surveys—a 45% response rate. Here are a few highlights: • Our feld trip participants were already quite active as birders: 93% reported watching birds around their home more than once a week, and 75% reported birding away from home in the prior month (not including our feld trip). At the same time, for half of the partici- pants, our trip was their frst-ever orga- nized birding feld trip. This reinforced our notion that there was a need for young birder programming in Iowa. • Young birders were asked, "Compared to BEFORE the feld trip, how would you describe yourself" on several aspects of conservation awareness: – 77% reported some or signifcant po- sitive change in their "awareness of the diversity of birds in Iowa." – 57% reported some or signifcant change in "awareness of how birds relate to their environment." • Regarding their "ability to make informed decisions about conservation issues," 49% reported some or signifcant change. Our frst feld trip in July 2012 attracted seven young birders. Highlights since then include: • Total of 40 young birder feld trips throughout Iowa • 637 total participants, an average of 17 per trip, comprising 328 young birders, 210 parents, grandparents, accompany- ing adults, and 99 volunteer leaders; our largest trip had 41 participants includ- ing 23 young birders. • Approximately three-fourths of young birders have been on one feld trip, and one-fourth have attended multiple trips. One 16-year-old has been on 32 of our 40 trips! • 36% of our young birders were female; 64% were male. Their average age was 10.5. • Two special all-day events with morning feld trip and afternoon ornithology pro- grams in collaboration with University of Iowa and Iowa State University • Iowa/Illinois Young Birder Weekend with 24 young birders from Iowa, Illi- nois, and Wisconsin exploring the Mis- sissippi River • 37 participants traveled by chartered bus to central Nebraska to witness the Sandhill Crane migration • Featured in a segment on Iowa Outdoors, a program of Iowa Public Television Part of a group of 50 young birders and parents during Iowa/Illinois Young Birder Weekend at Green Island, Iowa in June 2014. Photo © Linda Bendorf

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