Bird Conservation Through Education TM

January 8, 2015 

In This Issue
"Birding 101" a Mistake?
Federal Duck Stamp Victory
First Day Hikes
Thanks to our BEN Bulletin sponsors:
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The Bird Education Network (BEN) was created following the February 2007 National Gathering, hosted by the Council for Environmental Education (CEE). BEN is a CEE initiative that seeks to connect and support a community of bird education professionals.


Over 4,000 individuals representing 300 organizations receive communications and engage in professional dialogue through the BEN-run Bird Education Listserv. 


A BEN Committee has been established to provide advice and guidance for this important initiative, to advance "bird conservation through education."

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An Introduction to Birds-

Why "Beginning Birding" and "Birding 101" may be a mistake

by Paul J. Baicich 
Photo Credit: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren 

Why does it seem that every third or fourth birding festival and nature-center seasonal program we see offers a bird-watching session with "Beginning Birding" or "Birding 101" in its title? Do these offerings really inspire newcomers to sign up?  Particularly the adult newcomers? These billings might not be the most effective ways to attract people to bird study.


Sometime, just sometimes, the very word "beginning" or "beginner," or even the primer-phrase "101" can be perceived by the uninitiated as a bit of a put-down. Under these circumstances, it might be wise to simply avoid these words. Just because the words have practically become standardized doesn't automatically mean that they are the best.


Besides, what may seem perfect for youngsters may be totally inappropriate for adults.


Consider this: adults may have gone through 30, 40, or more years being generally aware of birds, having watched hours of Nature, having annually hosted a feeding station in the backyard, and being basically aware of the characteristics differentiating herons, hawks, geese, and chickadees. These adults are not total beginners at all.


As bird educators, we should assume that our adult students usually have more-than-rudimentary knowledge when it comes to birds. In fact, it's actually up to us to bring that knowledge to the fore and to call up valuable life experiences and observations. Don't presume that you're dealing with blank slates, empty vessels or worse. It really doesn't help.


Presenting bird-identification skills, birds as a representation of nature as a whole, and bird-conservation issues as people-conservation issues can all be done without dismissing the knowledge already held by adult students. And never assume that bird ID is the only - or even the most important - objective.


Rather than "Beginning Birding" or "Birding 101," you might consider starting with calling the session or class "Breaking into Birding" (a la the Audubon Hog Island camp this year) or "Discovering Birds," or "Birds: Beyond the Backyard," or "How to Know the Birds."


In summary, adults may already know a lot about birds, conservation, sustainability, and responsible stewardship. Start by giving them the benefit of the doubt, and proceed accordingly.

Year-End Celebration for Federal Duck Stamp Act of 2014 


2015 Federal Duck Stamp
by Jennifer Miller

The year ended on a high note for wildlife conservation as the President signed into law the Federal Duck Stamp Act of 2014 on December 18.  After overwhelming support in both the house and senate, the Act will increase stamp funding for the first time in 23 years through a $10 purchase increase for the stamp, an increase dedicated to habitat easements.  


BEN congratulates all of the legislators and conservation organizations that have worked to support this increase which will provide much needed financial support towards habitat conservation and restoration efforts. 


Did you Start the New Year with a First Day Hike?

First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America's State Parks to get people outdoors, with over 400 hikes that occurred this year in all 50 states.  If you missed, simply head out now to make it a "First Week Hike"!  

Happy New Year From BEN!


BEN: Connecting Bird Educators TM
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Newsletter maintained by: The Council for Environmental Education, Flying WILD and the BEN Committee.