In 2015, Iowa Young Birders offered our first scholarships to attend one of the American Birding Association Young Birder Camps in either Delaware or Colorado. Applications were due April 1 and we are pleased to announce our first scholarship awardee, Devvin Schroeder of Decorah, Iowa.
Devvin is 18 and a member of Iowa Young Birders. She hopes to attend Camp Colorado. If there is space, Iowa Young Birders will make a $250 award toward Devvin's camp tuition. If a scholarship winner is not able to attend their camp of choice, Iowa Young Birders will award him or her with a three-year student membership in the American Birding Association. Congratulations to Devvin!
Each scholarship applicant is required to submit an essay describing his or her most memorable Iowa birding experience and how it has changed their thoughts, ideas, or outlook on conservation.
Here is Devvin’s essay:
Hi, my name is Devvin Schroeder, I have been very fortunate to grow up in a family of conservationist. Both of my parents have worked in conservation for many years, and they are teaching me how to help our birds and our other wildlife.
My most memorable Iowa birding experience is when I went birding with Larry Reis and Dennis Carter at Cardinal Marsh close to the Howard/Winneshiek county line. Both Larry and Dennis taught me how to identify different shore birds. Larry taught me to identify them with what color their legs and feathers were, and by what size of beak they had. Whereas Dennis taught me how to identify them by their size, the shape of their bodies, and their flight pattern. Larry also taught me how to identify some of the different dragonflies. Cardinal Marsh is where I actually saw my first Green Heron, Lesser and Greater Sandpipers, and some other really cool and beautiful shore birds. When I first saw these birds I was amazed at how small they were and how fast they could run. It was fascinating watching the sandpipers run along the shore looking for things to eat. Just watching them stick their beaks in the sand piping for food was amazing. Cardinal Marsh is also were I saw my first Sandhill Crane. Seeing the Sandhill Crane was really special to me because at the time I didn’t know if I would ever see another Sandhill Crane again.
I was actually really looking forward to going to Nebraska to see the Sandhill Crane migration with the Iowa Young Birders. Instead I’m going to southern Texas with my mom to pick up my grandparents. We took them to Texas over Thanksgiving and we were able to go birding for a week. I’m so excited to go back to Texas because we may be able to see some of the Whopping Cranes at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. That is if they haven’t migrated yet.
I find bird watching very relaxing, because all you really have to do is find a beautiful spot to find birds and hike because the birds are all around you. You just have to take the time to listen and to look at what’s around you. If you’re not careful you may miss them.
After being at Cardinal Marsh it showed me that we have to keep our water ways and our wetlands clean from pollution. Because if we don’t the future generations may not be able to see a Green Heron or a Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs. If it wasn’t for conservation and the effort of many wildlife groups like the DNR, the future generations would not be able to see a Prairie Chicken.
Many of our bird species are disappearing because of the habitat loss. With so many birds being threatened it pushes the birds that are on the brink even closer to being gone, for good. With people working hard on preserving these wild places many of our rare bird species could make a comeback. Unless we do something, like get more children, young adults or even older adults interested in birding that could make a big impact on the future of our birds.
By not cutting that dead tree down in your yard that your wife/husband really dislikes you are helping a bird. You may wonder how not cutting that awful tree down can help? Well it helps by providing a place for some birds to nest in, and many insect and different bugs will slowly start to decay the tree. Many of the insect and different bugs help feed a variety of birds, like woodpeckers and nuthatches.
When I graduate from high school, I’m going to go to college at Iowa State University and major in Natural Resource Ecology and Management. So that I can use my knowledge to help educate people on the growing need to protect our disappearing wildlife. We are not going to solve this problem in one day or in a year; but with so many more people starting to understand that we have to do something before birds and other wildlife go extinct.
If you would like to help us encourage young birders like Devvin, please consider making a contribution to Iowa Young Birders.