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Youth Volunteer Opportunities

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABBBO welcomes children and teens at our station both as short-term and as long-term volunteers, and we have seen many local young people connected with the station grow and continue their involvement with bird conservation as adults.  

At BBBO we hold the safety of birds and the integrity of our scientific data as our paramount concerns.  Accordingly, children and teens can participate as fully as their age and abilities allow without compromising those priorities.

Ages 5-12: Sometimes young children visit the station as guests, and they get hooked. They convince their parents to bring them back again and again, and eventually they start helping in addition to merely watching. While we often let visitors “help” us in many ways by carrying clothespins or even bird bags, we typically do not start real training of youngsters until they have shown a demonstrated interest in and a commitment to birds and to banding. For children that do evidence such an interest, we consult closely with parents to develop appropriate activities for the child. Children younger than 11 or 12 can learn to scribe, to open and close nets, to check nets, and to help with routine station tasks. However, they should not expect to handle birds beyond learning proper grips and occasionally helping to release them. Children at the top of this age range who have shown dedication to the station and who have an appropriate temperament (i.e. who are unusually patient and focused) may sometimes begin learning to extract birds from nets. Children up to 12 years old must be supervised at all times by a parent or guardian.

Ages 13-18:  Teenagers can be fantastic volunteers! They absorb information quickly, and while they may complain about the 6:00 AM start time, they never seem to get tired of walking the net lanes. With appropriate training, teen volunteers have the opportunity to serve in all capacities at the station. They can scribe, extract birds from nets, band and process birds, and even design studies that can be carried out at the station. Teens should expect that becoming a competent and independent volunteer takes many months and even years. New volunteers in this age range must initially be accompanied by a parent; once a teen has demonstrated sufficient maturity, parents may be allowed to leave them in the care of station management.

High School Community Service Requirements:  High school students wishing to fulfill their community service requirement are welcome at the station. We have a number of opportunities from data entry to habitat maintenance that can be used to fulfill the required hours. Students with special skills in filmmaking, website design, sewing, etc., are encouraged to contact the station to discuss special projects that they might undertake. However, unless the student has previously been volunteering at the station, their service will not include scribing or bird handling.

Eagle Scout Projects:  Aspiring Eagle Scouts have done some amazing things at our station – they’ve constructed an outdoor classroom, built picnic tables and benches, and even replaced a broken bridge.  We have a number of projects that could easily fit the scope of an Eagle project, and we’d love to hear your ideas as well!

For more information, please call us at 585-227-3490, or e-mail us.