WFO occasionally provides competitive scholarships to help young people who are interested in field ornithology attend birding trips or conferences. The Pasadena Audubon/WFO Youth Scholarship Fund was created to honor the memory of Mike San Miguel, a key contributor to and beloved friend of Pasadena Audubon and WFO. Applicants must be students in Grades 6 through 12 and be members of Western Field Ornithologists.

Congratulations to the six youths who have been awarded a Pasadena Audubon/WFO scholarship to the annual conference, being held in San Diego, CA on Oct. 8–12, 2014. The Pasadena Audubon/WFO youth scholarship covers the registration fee, a selection of field trips, workshops, plenary science sessions, expert panels, a banquet, and two nights lodging, but not transportation to or from the conference. In July, Pasadena Audubon generously donated $5,000 to the fund which enables WFO to award six, rather than three, scholarships to the conference.

Scholarship winners

In photo (from left): Mario, Betsy, Dessi, Logan, Teodelina, Lee

In alphabetical order, the youths whose essays and letters of recommendation earned them a scholarship are:

Desmond (Dessi) Sieburth, age 11, from Montrose, CA “Birds are the most important wildlife species to me. They are beautiful, and their amazing behavior: feeding, mating, and reproduction fascinate me…. Because I am so interested in birds, I teach others about birds, draw birds, volunteer and survey, and list birds…. For me, listing birds is important. It keeps track of my life list and birds I saw at specific places.”

Kerry (Betsy) Underwood, age 18, from Phoenix, AZ “In order to further improve my knowledge base regarding birds and the effects of humans on bird habitats, I will be taking an AP Environmental Science course this year in school. When school resumes I intend to be volunteering at a wildlife care facility, helping with the baby birds.”

Lee Evans, age 16, from Trabuco Canyon, CA “I teach my friends simple things at first, like the difference between a raven and a crow, how there is no such thing as a ‘seagull’…. The most interesting thing about birds is the variety. How evolution split apart a pelican and a finch.”

Logan Kahle, age 17, from San Francisco, CA “Birding has…. helped me understand the world from an ecological perspective, allowing me to observe habitats beyond just the avifaunal perspective…. I plan to use birding in research and hopefully a career in the coming years.”

Mario Balitbit, age 17, from Santa Rosa, CA “I draw a lot of birds, from life, others from assignments…. There is no exact reason why I love birds the way I do, but what I tell others is that, it is a calling and it is something that I was meant to do…. Overall, my main goal is somehow to find a way to get a career in Ornithology and be part of the birding world.”

Teodelina Martelli, age 13, from Thousand Oaks, CA “I have loved birds since I was three, when I started drawing birds…. My favorite concepts of birding are behavior, listing, and taxonomy. Taxonomy is interesting because once you know enough Latin, you can understand a lot of what they’re saying in the Latin name of the bird.”

Congratulations to each of you. WFO members look forward to having you join them in the many conference activities.