On this installment of "Meet an IAYB Leader", we meet our Board Vice Chair Jennifer Owens. Thanks for your leadership Jennifer!
Current town: Ames, Iowa
Hometown: Monmouth, Illinois
Jennifer with her new puppy, winter 2018
What sparked your interest in birds/nature?
Growing up, my family was always interested in nature and the outdoors. We did a lot of camping and picnics. My interest in birding started with my grandmother who passed it along to my mother and then to me and now to my children. My grandmother kept a backyard bird list of numbers/types of birds seen at her backyard feeder for every month of every year for much of her adult life. When she died, my mom and her siblings found boxes of the little notebooks she used for this.
What is your favorite bird?
That is a tough one- so many to choose from! One of my favorites would have to be the Rose-breasted Grosbeak because it reminds me of my childhood- we usually saw them at our favorite camping park. I’m also fond of Great Horned Owls as I worked in a small raptor rehab facility as an undergraduate and used live owls to do educational programming for local schools.
What is your favorite birding/outdoor space?
I like to bird anywhere and everywhere! One of my go-to favorites is Brookside Park in Ames.
Do you have young birders in your family?
Both of my “young” birders are now young adults. While both of my kids enjoy birding, my daughter (who recently graduated from college) does so only casually. My son William is a graduated Iowa Young Birder and is a very active birder. William is currently a Biology and Math major at Iowa State.
How did you first learn about Iowa Young Birders?
I can’t remember how I heard of the opportunity, but I signed William up for an Iowa Young Birder event at Iowa State University when he was in middle school. The Ames Tribune ended up interviewing William before the event and writing a really nice article about him! After the Iowa State event (which I think featured Steve Dinsmore), I officially signed William up for IAYB and I believe our first official trip was to Ledges State Park.
What has been your favorite IAYB trip thus far?
Tough call. I would say I really enjoyed seeing Prairie Chickens in southern Iowa but both William and I enjoyed the Hawk watch trip to western Iowa a lot.
What motivated you to become an IAYB Board Member?
I have always tried to be involved in things my kids love. As William’s passion for birding developed, it was a natural step for me to be involved. As William aged out of the organization I have continued to be involved with the board. While my contribution in the last two years, has mainly been limited to board meetings, I enjoy helping the organization move forward.
Why do you feel exposing young people to birds and nature is important?
I truly believe this generation of young people will be responsible for saving the Earth as we know it. Discovering the beauty and wonder of nature is an important step to being willing to fight to preserve it. Birding is one of the most rewarding, yet simple way to enjoy nature. Birds are everywhere, from city rooftops to country fence lines. All you need is a pair of binoculars and your curiosity. I love to help people discover how easy it is to watch birds and how amazing they are when you watch!