Thursday, November 20, 2008

My plug for the Cornell Lab

Several days ago on the Cornell Blog of Ornithology (also accessible via the Round Robin icon over in my blog roll) I learned about a video that the Lab put together about the benefits of being a member. I also received an email from the Lab telling me about the video. Take a look!

If that video wasn't moving and compelling enough for you, let me take a minute to tell you why I think you should consider becoming a member of the Lab. No, they are not paying me or asking me to do this. But I believe in their mission and want to encourage as many other folks as possible to join in, too. (And hey, I've answered my fair share of phones at public radio/TV pledge drives, so this is my internet version of that kind of activity.)

Dark-eyed Junco, female

I'll tell you about my background with the Lab. It started with Project Feederwatch, just under 4 years ago. Dave was actually the one who told me about it. He saw a story on one of the local TV stations about a woman who watched and counted birds in her yard, and submitted her bird counts to some program at Cornell University. A few quick keystrokes in Google led me to Lab's website, and I signed up to participate in Project Feederwatch right away. We already had feeders up at our house, and I was really starting to take an interest in all of the birds that were coming to visit and feed, so things just kind of fell into place.

Somewhere into my second season of Feederwatching I decided to become a full-fledged member of the Lab. I kind of compare it to becoming a member of your local public radio or television station, but instead of supporting great programming, you're supporting great science and conservation efforts!

plumage of White-Throated Sparrow

I have been associated with another bird conservation organization, but I allowed my membership with them to lapse - not because I didn't believe in what they were doing, but because I didn't feel any connection with them. I received quarterly "reports" from them in the mail, but those fell kind of flat for me - kind of like reading stockholder reports from your 401k firm... lots of boring text with only a few photos.

With the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, I feel a real connection with where my money is going. Part of that connection is due to the vast array of citizen science projects that they offer. Not only is my money encouraged, but so is my participation, and the data I supply is being cataloged and used. I am also grateful to them for featuring so many of their project participants' photos on their website and in their publications, including some of my photos, like this one.

To sum up, I support the Lab because

  • I love birds
  • I want to put my money where my mouth is for conservation
  • Project Feederwatch is awesome and fun
  • I have learned tons about birds from their website and print publications
  • I feel a connection with the Lab
  • Through citizen science projects I am forging a closer connection with and greater appreciation for the natural world
  • Did I mention I love birds?
If you feed/watch/take photos of birds and you're concerned about conservation and earth's biological diversity, consider becoming a Lab member today (or consider a gift membership for someone for the holidays!).

Also, remember it's not too late to get in on this season's Project Feederwatch. You do NOT have to a member of the Lab to participate in this program, but if you become a member you get a discount off of the Project fee (and off of any other Citizen Science project fees).

1 comment:

RuthieJ said...

Thanks for the 'gentle' reminder Heather.