The student members of the Ohio Young Birders Club (OYBC) will take a “stand” against habitat loss with a Big Sit
fundraiser on October 10.
The Big Sit will be open to the public and will take place at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, 14000 West State
Route 2, Oak Harbor, from 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Just watch for the BIG SIT signs if you want to participate. Proceeds of the Big Sit will benefit both the OYBC and the Middle Bass Island East Point Preserve restoration project of the Lake Erie Islands Chapter of the Black Swamp Conservancy.
The Ohio Young Birders Club is a statewide group for young people, ages 12 to 18, who have an interest in birds and in nature. The club is part of the education program of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, a research and education organization based in Oak Harbor.
The idea behind a Big Sit is to stay in a 17-foot diameter circle and count all the species of birds you can identify from that spot during a continuous period.
This Big Sit goes well beyond counting birds.
Kim Kaufman, executive director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory explains, “The mission of the Ohio Young Birders Club is to encourage, educate, and empower our youth conservation leaders. We provide monthly outdoor experiences that help develop a deeper awareness and appreciation of our natural world. But, we also recognize that it takes more than the ability to identify birds to be good stewards of our natural resources. We strive to give young people the tools to empower their ability to be strong conservation leaders. Financial support is critical for conservation efforts, and teaching the students about fundraising and charitable giving is an important part of their leadership development.”
While similar in name, Black Swamp Bird Observatory and Black Swamp Conservancy are separate organizations. The conservancy is a Perrysburg-based land trust whose purpose is to protect and preserve agricultural lands and natural areas in northwest Ohio for the benefit of future generations. The two groups enjoy a strong working relationship, says Kaufman.
Kevin Joyce, the conservancy’s executive director, says he is encouraged to know there are young people who care about the natural world.
“It seems like young people today are more aware than ever about the importance of conservation and protecting the environment,” said Joyce. “The Big Sit fundraiser by Ohio Young Birders is tangible proof of that fact.”
Sarah Winnicki, a 16-year old club member from Akron, is really excited to be able to give back to the natural world.
“Being a part of the OYBC and meeting other young people who aren’t embarrassed to say that they’re bird watchers has given me a lot more confidence in myself. I’m really proud that our club can now give something back and help support the restoration project on Middle Bass Island that will be a great place for birds.”
Noted bird expert, Kenn Kaufman, had this to say about the project, “This is not just a local issue. At times during migration, the stopover habitat on the islands can be essential for the survival of birds traveling as far away as Alaska or Brazil.”
Contact Black Swamp Bird Observatory at 419-898-4070 to make a donation or observatory officials say people can stop out to see what the Big Sit is all about and making a donation on-site; or you can make a donation online at www.ohioyoungbirders.org.