Last week, I went on a lovely little birding jaunt with the Toledo Naturalists’ Association. We walked around Swan Creek Metropark just before sunset; sadly, I had to depart before I was able to observe the remarkable feats of the woodcocks that mate there. The woods was alive with all of my favorite springtime singers, and it wasn’t too awfully cold.
In the group was a fellow named Nate who seemed to be an experienced and enthusiastic birder. He spotted lots of birds for us, identified many by ear, and was excited about the upcoming North Coast Open, a local birding competition. I listened intently as he related a story of a very cooperative woodcock following his family along their walk, 6 or 7 years ago.
The remarkable thing about this was that Nate was only about 13 years old.
I have an immense respect for not only Nate, but any young person with a passion and a drive to follow that passion wherever it leads them. Think about it: if Nate is 13 and remembers identifying a bird 6 or 7 years ago, it means he’s been birding for half his life. I know several older formidable birders who can’t make that claim! This passion will follow him throughout his formative years and adulthood, molding a passionate naturalist and advocate for nature. With the alarming prevalence of “NDD” and kids who have never seen a chipmunk, it’s these young nature-lovers who bear the weight of hope for the future of our planet.
So my hat’s off to all the young whippersnappers out there who nurture an intense love of anything – especially nature. It’s something I never experienced as a child, and I have really struggled to come into my own and find hobbies and passions as a young adult. Any youngster with the passion and motivation to pursue a hobby, a sport, or anything else long enough to say “I’ve been doing this for years” has my admiration.