Earlier this month, the other EFTA interns and I were sent off to sunny San Diego for training! It was a week full of classroom learning, fieldwork, presentations, and great people. From shorebird identification to teaching and presenting strategies to nature walks and hikes, the line between work training and fun blurred. Although we were there to learn (and we learned a lot!) it didn’t always feel like work. All thirteen of the interns got to meet each other for the first time, we refined our knowledge on shorebirds, and became a little closer. I learned some surprising things and was grateful for the experience.
We had a ton of great presentations during the training. However, my favorite was on field drawing by Stacey Vigallon from the Los Angeles Audubon. Stacey’s presentation was focused on creativity and drawing rather than skill. All of a sudden, drawing became less intimidating and more doable. She gave us quick and simple tips that drastically improved our field drawings. Her philosophy on drawing and birding in general made even the most simple and mundane things seem so important and I loved how she focused on the small details we often overlook as unimportant. For instance, she acknowledged how common pigeons are ignored in birding, but we often forget about the beautiful colors on their necks. She applied this to art since a lot of “lesser” are and drawings are ignored or called not good. She said it is important just get people to draw because it has value, is a different perspective, and a new way to interpret a physical being or object. Coming from one of the least artistic people you’ll meet, even I can say I felt comfortable drawing under her instruction.
Going into the training, I knew very little about birds in general and almost nothing about shorebirds. However, by the end, I was able to identify birds, count large flocks, critique a bird walk, and speak about diversity issues in the conservation field. It was a steep learning curve compared to a lot of my peers, but they, EFTA staff, and other volunteers were always willing to help me out. Training was such a warm and welcoming environment. The field work took me to some beautiful and interesting places, like the Point Loma Tide Pools at the Cabrillo National Monument. Although I will not be working with shorebirds as intimately at my site as other interns, I was happy to learn about nature and conservation. It is exciting to be able to talk about and identify birds along the shore with friends. I’ll definitely put the education tactics and community outreach methods to use at my site. I cannot wait to start working at my site this week!
As a new birder, I would like to give one tip (and share an inside joke the interns and I developed). When birding, everything, and I mean everything, is a willet if you believe hard enough. Other birds, planes, lizards, and even your fellow birders.
See you soon!