The Missouri River Bird Observatory first got the idea to start a young birders’ club in the state years ago, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2018 that the idea became a reality. The first young birders’ club was started in 2006 by six students in Ohio with the assistance of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. They formed what is known as the Ohio Young birders’ club. Since then, young birders’ clubs have sprung up all over the country with the help of the YBC Toolkit developed by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. During the spring of 2018, the Missouri River Bird Observatory hosted the Spring Meeting for the Audubon Society of Missouri (now known as the Missouri Birding Society). During the meeting, professionals from all over the state, and outside the state, gathered at a workshop to launch the Missouri Young Birders’ Club (MYBC).
The MYBC is a project under the umbrella of the Missouri River Bird Observatory and its mission is to bring together young people to enjoy, experience and conserve Missouri’s birds and other wildlife. The MYBC is part of a framework called the Young Birders Network (YBN) https://www.youngbirdersnetwork.org. The YBN aims to provide all the resources a young birder needs to know about a life with birds. The YBN is a community of young birders and Young Birders’ Clubs (YBCs) from all over the United States and the world. The YBN thrives under the philosophy that young birders’ clubs encourage the next generation of naturalists to grow their interest in the natural world.
The Missouri River Bird Observatory aimed to start a young birders’ club because they increase awareness and appreciation of the natural world and instill a conservation ethic in their members. Many young adults cite young birders’ clubs, camps, and other networking groups as a turning point for them in their career development. Young birders often have trouble finding peers with similar interests and YBCs fill this niche.
Our vision for the Missouri Young Birders’ Club is to have a club that is by young birders, for young birders. Empowering Missouri’s youth is a large part of the MYBC mission. Youth members are involved in making decisions for all aspects of the club. They can also mentor younger naturalists. The club provides field trips to local birding areas and opportunities for members to grow their knowledge of the outdoors. Currently, our membership consists of students ages 8 to 17 years old. We have established a Greater Kansas City Chapter, Greater St. Louis Chapter, Central Missouri Chapter and are developing a Springfield Area Chapter. Local chapters are guided by Regional Chapter Leaders and spearheaded youth members. MYBC also has a conservation focus. Members are not only able to enjoy and experience Missouri’s birds, but also take action to conserve their habitats. Our hope is that young birders’ can take part in assisting with habitat restoration projects as well as community-science programs such as eBird and Great Backyard Bird Count. We strive to not only involve young Missouri birders, but any young person looking to enjoy the outdoors with their peers. We work to involve students interested in art, music, design, technology, sports, cooking and any other interest they may have in additional to their interest the natural world.