Our founder and past Executive Director Carl Bendorf is featured this month for our "Meet an IAYB Leader" series. Carl remains active in IAYB as our Board Treasurer. Learn more about him below!
Current town: Longmont, Colorado
Hometown: I grew up in Amana, Iowa and lived in Iowa City for 35 years.
What sparked your interest in birds/nature?
As early as I can remember, we had a number of books around home about animals, nature, and birds. I used to pore over those books for hours and wonder where these cool things could be found. Later on, a friend and I would ride our bicycles out in the country and at some point, we started looking at birds. When I was about 11 years old, I hooked a toy parabolic microphone up to a small Sony reel-to-reel tape recorder and my first recording was of an Eastern Bluebird.
What is your favorite bird?
Since moving to Colorado four years ago, I think my favorite bird has become the White-tailed Ptarmigan. They never leave the alpine tundra (above 11,000 ft. in Colorado) and change from pure white in the winter to looking like a lichen-covered stone in the summer. I’ve had a great time finding and showing these interesting birds to dozens of birders.
What is your favorite birding/outdoor space?
Being from flatland Iowa, the mountains have always been a mysterious place to me. Now I get to visit the mountains regularly but they are still mysterious (and host a lot of cool birds!)
Do you have young birders in your family?
Our children are grown and we don’t have any grand-children so, sadly, no.
How did you first learn about Iowa Young Birders?
I had the idea in 2010 to start an organization in Iowa that could provide the same type of support for young birders that is provided by, for example, a youth soccer league. I’m thrilled that IAYB continues to thrive under Tyler Harms' leadership and the great support from the IAYB Board and all the parents, grandparents, families and friends of the young birders.
Do you remember your first IAYB field trip?
I remember wondering if anyone would show up for our first IAYB field trip at Terra Park in July 2012. It was a thrill when perhaps a dozen kids plus parents/grandparents turned out and we had a great time.
What has been your favorite trip thus far?
Well, I could cheat and say it was the family birding adventure we organized out here in Colorado in the summer of 2016! I also remember being pushed around in a wheelchair during our woodcock evening after I’d broken my ankle following a slip on the ice (while carrying a bag of bird seed!) Actually, every trip was a wonderful experience.
What motivated you to become an IAYB Board member?
It’s been a bit of a challenge to be active on the IAYB Board from here in Colorado but Tyler has always arranged for me to be able to participate in meetings by conference call and we get great reports on the activities. It’s great to be able to stay involved.
Why do you feel exposing kids to birds and nature is important?
Of course, there is overwhelming evidence of the value of exposure to birds and nature. I’ll just reflect on my own experience as to what birding has meant in my own life in terms of unforgettable experiences, great friends, and being a wonderful window into the larger world around us.