Birds, Careers and Conservation Youth Workshop – August 10 & 11, 2015

August 10th – August 11th, 2015
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, United States

Thanks to funding from the Bobolink and Bratten Foundations, on August 10th and 11th we had a fantastic time hosting twenty-six youth (and their eight chaperones) from Chicago (MI), Sacramento (CA), Detroit (MI), Palm Beach (FL), Oakland (CA), Ponce (PR), and St. Paul (MN), for our Birds, Careers and Conservation workshop here at Sapsucker Woods. The group participated in a diverse and interactive series of activities and presentations.

Participants learned how to use sound recording equipment with David McCartt and Martha Fischer, expert sound archivists at The Lab. participants also learned why it is important to record natural sounds and have the sounds in scientific collections. They recorded local birds and other natural sounds in Sapsucker Woods. Participants also toured Macaulay Library and learned about cutting-edge technology, research, data collection, and analytical methods from staff. In addition, they met Ashik Rahaman, a research analyst in the Lab’s Bioacoustics Research Program who gave a presentation about listening to the oceans, and had a fun interactive activity, in which participants had the chance to learn how to use specialized sound analytic software, which participants used for recording, playing and exploring the sound components of their own voices, bird songs, or ocean creatures’ sounds.

Participants toured the Cornell Museum of Vertebrates with Charles Dardia and were able to see the dozens of specimens of birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Youth and their chaperones became familiar with some of the preservation techniques used to keep specimens in good condition and saw the effects that years of storage can have on different types of feathers and their coloration.

NestWatch Project staff led students on a walk around Sapsucker Woods Nature Sanctuary to search for bird nests, but first gave a wonderful training session of how to use binoculars to observe birds and nests. Participants also learned about bird breeding biology and habitat, while youth used scopes and binoculars for the first time to watch local birds and their nests up close.

Misaki Ouchida, Bartels Science Illustration Intern, led a drawing activity called “The Power of the Arts in Conservation.” She showed participants how to sketch birds and notice specific details about them. Youth and chaperones, enjoyed drawing birds, and discovering wonderful details of birds, they have not noticed before.

Ian Davies, from the eBird team gave a fantastic presentation about eBird data and community. He talked about the impact of eBird on bird watching, bird data collection, and research at a global scale, and in turn, how this citizen science community effort of bird lovers can help to shape better conservation programs affecting birds and other living species all over the planet. On the same tone and with the same passion, Jessie Barry, Program Manager at Macaulay Library, and Merlin Project Leader, talk about the wonders of Merlin, a cutting-edge smart phone app able to identify birds with just few questions and clicks by user.

Students went on a night walk through the Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary trails with Karen and Marta (CUBs Coordinators). They walked through the woods in near-darkness and kept completely silent. Youth were able to experience the sounds and feel of the woods in a way many people never do.

Some of the other presentations by Lab faculty included “Conservation in the Neotropics and the Significance of Local Community Engagement” by Eduardo Iñigo Elias (Coordinator of the Neotropical Initiative), and “Discovering the Secrets of Elephants” by Peter Wrege, Director of the Elephant Listening Project (ELP), who also brought a huge speaker, to explain the mechanics of the low frequency sounds used as communication signals by elephants, and how this type of communication is so important for elephats in the African forests open spaces.

Participants also took a tour of Cornell, including the Veterinary and the Engineering Schools. They learned about the admissions process and about research opportunities. Aimee Tavzel (undergraduate student at the College of Engineering), guided the School of Engineering tour, and talked about her experience as a student at Cornell, clubs, academic support, different brunches in the field of Engineering, research opportunities for undergraduates, and more. Students Braulio Castillo (sophmore, College of Arts & Sciences), and Shailee Shah (recently graduated, CALS) spoke about their experiences as undergraduates at Cornell. Part of the group, who had to stay for an extra night, had a chance to have a pic-nic dinner at the shore of Cayuga Lake, and then take a hike to watch the beautiful Taughannock Falls in the evening.

Overall, the August 2015 Bird, Careers and Conservation Workshop was a great success!

All photos on this page were taken by Karen Purcell or Marta del Campo. Thank you Karen and Marta!

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