Thursday, August 03, 2006

Do you cultivate?

A colleague recently mentioned the seeming discrepancy between the age of the magazine’s typical reader and the magazine's youth-oriented focus. She pointed out the Adventures with Austin column, the Birdboy columnist and the ages of the last three Birders of the Year.

True, our last reader survey indicates that the average reader has celebrated a 60th birthday. In contrast, Austin recently turned 7, Birdboy is all of 20, and the last three Birders of the Year were 17 or in their 30s.

Does that indicate a bias toward the younger generations? Not necessarily. The two columns claim only four of the 72 pages in each issue. Also, the Birders of the Year receive their titles and prizes after being chosen by readers, not by the magazine’s staff.

Perhaps you also question the spotlight on younger birders, given the magazine’s demographics. Here’s my reasoning: Many readers might have children and grandchildren, with whom they can share their interest in birds. Readers and the birding community need to cultivate the next generation of birders and conservationists.

If you truly care about birds, then you personally will encourage younger birders. In the future, they are most likely to work toward the birds’ survival and continue the cultivation of conservationists.

With that in mind, I’m pleased to point out Kevin T. Karlson’s article, “Leaders of the Flock,” on page 38. As part of WildBird’s 20th anniversary, Karlson focused on up-and-coming leaders in the birding community.

I’m also pleased to say that Karlson’s picks include a fair number of individuals associated with the magazine. He pinpointed these leaders without input from me, and I enjoyed seeing the names of two columnists, a book reviewer and members of World Series of Birding and Great Texas Birding Classic teams.

The magazine has long sponsored young birders in those two birding events, and its support of the next generation is not brand-spankin-new. Just check the mission statement at the bottom of the table of contents. It says, in part: “WildBird urges readers to share their appreciation for birds and to consider beginners’ education and habitat conservation as means of ensuring avian species’ survival.”

This post originally appeared in the September/October 2006 issue as the Editor's Note.


Blogger SRM said...

I am concerned that this list included only 1 female. Given that females make up about half, give or take depending on the survey, of birders, this is in my opinion discriminatory.

Surely the author could have found more than one female in the field that is shaping the future of birding.

October 13, 2006 12:09 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

You're not the first to voice that opinion. If you know of other young women who've accomplished as much as Jessie Barry and have earned national recognition, please share their names!

October 13, 2006 9:58 AM  

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