Note: We are especially grateful to Muscoot Farm for once again allowing us to use their excellent facilities, and especially to Eric Stone for welcoming us there and volunteering to lead a walk...had the weather cooperated, it surely would have been great fun! Thanks also to Monica and Joel Smith, parents of club member Rachel Smith, for coordinating with Eric and making the arrangements for a wonderful meeting place along with food and beverages. The icy road conditions prevented our special guest speaker, NYSYBC alumna Lila Fried, from attending. We sure hope to welcome Lila at a future gathering!
This report is based on Field Trip Coordinator Sue Freiburger's notes, edited in collaboration with Carena Pooth.
A great place to stay out of the weather!
The morning started off with a surprise ice storm and we ended up having to cancel our bird walk and start the meeting a bit late. Despite the challenging conditions, 19 determined young birders and their families made it to the meeting, along with 3 of our club advisors (Carena Pooth, Herb Thompson, and Mary Batcheller). We kicked off the meeting with introductions and lots of hot chocolate, coffee, and donuts.
Club President Eamon Freiburger started the meeting and gave the recap of 2014. The NYSYBC had a very exciting year last year, adding 4 species to the club life list, bringing it to a total of 282!
Adult Advisor Herb Thompson talked about the World Series of Birding and how it is a fundraiser for the club as well as an exciting weekend of birding. The money raised there makes a huge contribution to the club's scholarship fund each year. Sue Freiburger gave a parent’s perspective of what it is like for younger members to join in a 24 hour birding team event. New this year: If you can’t do the WSB, you can do a “Big Day” of your own, anywhere you wish, and challenge yourself to get as many species as possible that day. Ask friends and family to pledge donations "per species" or just donate a set amount.
Eamon led a discussion about club communications. We will continue using the mailing list for club communications and also to share birding experiences, interesting articles, and other information. The club's flickr account will continue as the place to post photos. Truth Muller volunteered to set up a club eBird account and enter field trip sightings there. This will complement the club's bird sightings data base, which is currently maintained by Eamon and is available in chart form on this website.
Book Swap! Photo by Carena Pooth
Herb then got a discussion going about how we really look at the birds we see every day in the field. We all like to see unusual species, but we see common ones far more often, and much can be learned by studying them carefully whenever we can. Herb suggested that we observe birds in our local area on a regular basis, and look at everything out there, not just the birds! Observe mammals, plants, insects, fish, herps, etc.! The main thing is to make it a habit to get out there and keep honing your skills while you enjoy the great outdoors.
Lunch break included a Book & Stuff Swap, which was followed by a fantastic photo quiz that Marc Katz ran. While the young birders were busy chatting and looking at their newly acquired books (and stuff), Sue took the opportunity to talk with the other parents about some questions that frequently come up about the club.
After the photo quiz, Brendan Murtha and Marc Katz shared some of their experiences at exciting birding camps they’ve attended with the help of NYSYBC scholarship funds. They both shared amazing photos and stories about their time at the ABA's Camp Avocet (in Delaware) and Camp Chiricahua (in Arizona). Marc felt that Camp Avocet was a great choice for younger birders since the conditions aren’t quite as strenuous as in AZ.
Next, Carena talked about the NYSYBC scholarship program. All Youth Members are eligible to apply for funding to help attend qualifying field trips, birding camps and other events (see the scholarships page for full details). Eamon shared a colorful, image-rich presentation that he and Carena had put together to serve as a roadshow to get local bird clubs interested in NYSYBC and help with fundraising. The slideshow is designed in such a way that any NYSYBC member can present it to a local bird club. The files are available to all club members; contact Eamon if you'd like to help out by telling others about NYSYBC.
Let's talk field trips!
Getting back to one of the biggest reasons young birders join the club, Sue talked about some exciting field trip ideas for this year and asked for additional suggestions. The young birders had lots of awesome ideas, of course! These included the Meadowlands area in NJ, Great Gull Island, the Shawagunks, a pelagic trip, Paul Smith's Center in the Adirondacks, Central Park, Slide Mountain, owl banding, Doodletown, Jones Beach, Montauk, Point Lookout, Floyd Bennett field, and Jamaica Bay! Many of these are special trips that require extra planning, so if we don’t get to your desired destination this year, rest assured that we will consider it in the future.
In the NYS Young Birders Club, we've always encouraged young birders to take advantage of leadership opportunities. Being a leader and serving a community or an organization is rewarding in itself, but it can also be a great learning experience that helps to prepare you for leadership roles in the future. Carena reviewed the club's updated leadership roles and responsibilities, along with the election process.
In keeping with our leadership theme, Carena presented these awards:
- The top fundraisers for the club in 2014 were Brendan Murtha and Eamon Freiburger, each of whom was awarded a copy of the second edition of Hawks in Flight by Pete Dunne, Clay Sutton, and David Sibley.
- Eamon Freiburger was given a Leadership Award "for demonstrating his strong sense of service to the club, setting a positive tone through frequent communication on the mailing list, and developing ideas for club growth."
- Annette Lehner, the club's first Adult Coordinator in 2008 and Treasurer since 2009, received an Unsung Hero Award "for her unflagging commitment to the club since the beginning, for her hard work and wise counsel behind the scenes, and for her unfailing diligence as Treasurer since 2009."
Wrapup: Club President Eamon Freiburger thanked everyone for being able to attend this year, especially with the dicey weather. It was great seeing familiar faces and lots of new faces! There were a lot of great discussions and ideas for 2015, and we are all looking forward to another great year.
— Sue Freiburger, age undisclosed
and Carena Pooth, age forgotten