Roughly two months after our first Great Lakes Young Birders Camp, I received an email from Natalie White, one of our campers, inquiring about ways to donate money to Michigan Audubon. Her inspiration, “So kids like me who love birds can have scholarships for bird camp.” This 14-year-old from Grand Rapids paints birds as a hobby and decided to put her talents to work for the cause.

On November 3, Natalie took part in an art show where she displayed information to raise awareness about the Great Lakes Young Birders Camp and pledged to donate half of her proceeds to help fund scholarships for future young birders.

The event proved to be an amazing success and Natalie generously contributed $250 toward camper scholarships. Bolstered by the positive feedback she received, she is currently working toward selling her remaining paintings so she can continue to give back.

When asked about her experience at camp, Natalie shared, “My favorite experiences at camp were when I realized that everyone there was like me, and every person there knew so much, and loved to share. At camp I could be myself and talk as much about birds as I wanted, and I met so many people who were kind, and included me in a way that I felt like close friends would do. I also learned so much about why conserving birds is important, and the experience was incredible. Holding wild birds and getting the chance to learn different ways to identify them was so cool. I will definitely go next year!”

As the Education Coordinator for Michigan Audubon, I work on many projects that excite me but camp is particularly special. The impact it had on the participants and myself during its inaugural year was more than I could have imagined. The Michigan Audubon staff and board greatly appreciate and applaud the philanthropy it inspired in Natalie.

We are all so lucky to be part of something that can help young birders meet one another and share experiences that will help shape the next generation of bird conservationists!

By Lindsay Cain, Michigan Audubon Education Coordinator

More information about the 2019 camp will be made available soon! If you are interested in staying up-to-date on the latest happenings for Michigan Audubon, sign up to get updates sent directly to your inbox through our monthly eNews or follow our Facebook page.