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LEAF program participants conduct their second point count along the edge of a bog in one of The Nature Conservancy's preserves in Michigan. Photo by USFWS

LEAF program participants conduct their second point count along the edge of a bog in one of The Nature Conservancy's preserves in Michigan. Photo by USFWS.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Bird Conservationists

In July, I led a group of dynamic young women in discovering the world of bird conservation and hands-on field work. The "Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future" (LEAF) program, hosted by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), provides paid summer internships for high school students and helps educators from environmental high schools share best practices and scientific resources.

I met with local TNC staff, the LEAF participants and mentors, and a local ornithologist to visit a TNC preserve in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on July 23. The group was immediately treated to close-up views of a scarlet tanager before they trekked on a rugged trail to the new preserve.

Upon arrival, they conducted three five-minute point counts, a common method for surveying breeding birds used throughout the United States. After visiting with the local media and learning about other ecological aspects of the preserve, the group returned to the local TNC office to learn more about the importance of bird monitoring and careers in conservation.

I was incredibly energized and inspired by these young women I met, and many of them are seriously considering careers in conservation. They were not only interested in exploring and protecting remaining natural landscapes, but they also wanted to learn some of the best methods for protecting birds in urban neighborhoods.

The LEAF program participants spent one additional week honing their skills and helping with conservation and management projects in Michigan before returning to New York City.

By Katie Koch
 

Katie Koch helps a LEAF intern identify an Eastern Kingbird during a five-minute point count. Photo by USFWS

Katie Koch helps a LEAF intern identify an Eastern Kingbird during a five-minute point count. Photo by USFWS.

The group takes a well-deserved ice cream break after surveying birds in the field and listening to Katie Koch describe the importance of bird monitoring and careers in conservation. Photo by USFWS

The group takes a well-deserved ice cream break after surveying birds in the field and listening to Katie Koch describe the importance of bird monitoring and careers in conservation. Photo by USFWS.


 
Last updated: September 4, 2014