North Carolina Birding Trail Celebrates Its 10-Year Anniversary!

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Networking_NCBT

The event included participants in the Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival, as well as invited guests working in conservation and tourism throughout North Carolina.

On Friday, October 20th, the North Carolina Birding Trail (NCBT) held a special event to commemorate its 10-year anniversary. North Carolina’s First Lady, Kristin Cooper, delivered the keynote address at the event, speaking about how birding has been a passion of hers since she was a child; she also spoke about how this passion drove the decision to create a bird and pollinator garden at the Governor’s Mansion, which will be dedicated on Thursday, October 26th. Heather Hahn, Executive Director of Audubon North Carolina, introduced First Lady Cooper. Also in attendance was Senator Bill Cook.

First Lady Kristin Cooper_NCBT

Audubon NC was able to attract First Lady Kristin Cooper to not only attend but provide a keynote address at the celebration. Heather Hahn (left, Audubon NC), First Lady Kristin Cooper (center), and Greg Andeck (right, Audubon NC)

Scott Anderson, Chair of the NCBT Steering Committee, shared the accomplishments of the NC Birding Trail and shared the partnership’s vision to create wonder of birds and the natural environment by increasing the birding community, which will enhance local economies—particularly in rural areas—through nature-based tourism, and improve the quality of birding sites and access to those sites.

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NC Birding Trail Technician and PRTM Graduate, Malorey Henderson (Master of Science, 2017; center), interacting with First Lady Cooper and NCBT Steering Committee Members (Jack Thigpen, NC Sea Grant, left; and John Hammond, US Fish & Wildlife Service, right).

The NC Birding Trail is a partnership between the the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Audubon North Carolina, NC Sea Grant, North Carolina State Parks, NC Cooperative Extension, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Each organization provides a representative to the NCBT Steering Committee, who provide guidance and oversight of NCBT initiatives, including formation of sub-committees to address NCBT objectives (e.g., trail development, promotion, community engagement, and funding). Each member of the Steering Committee hosted a table during the event to enhance awareness of the NCBT partnership, as well as awareness of additional activities of each organization. Dr. Erin Seekamp, Associate Professor and Tourism Extension Specialist, represents NC Cooperative Extension on the NCBT Steering Committee, provided attendees with a glimpse into the redesigned Birder Friendly Business BFB certification program. The BFB certification program aims to educate tourism entrepreneurs in marketing to birders as clients. The program is being redesigned as online training modules, with an anticipated launch in early 2018.

Lena Gallitano_NCBT

Lena Gallitano (Audubon NC, former NCBT Steering Committee member), a dedicated volunteer at the event, was instrumental in the NCBT’s formation and helped implement numerous on-site BFB trainings.

The anniversary celebration was held at the Coastal NC Wildlife Refuges Gateway Visitor Center in Manteo in concurrence with the Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival.

All photos credited to Brian Crawford/Audubon North Carolina