13-year-old Connecticut Audubon Society Volunteer Wins L.L. Bean ‘Outdoor Heroes Award’

Jun 25th, 2010 | By | Category: Open Space, Wildlife

Award Winner Alex Burdo. (Photo by Frazier Bell)

13-year-old Connecticut Audubon Society Volunteer Alex Burdo  has won L.L. Bean’s ‘Outdoor Heroes Award’  

Alexander (Alex) Burdo, a 13-year-old resident of Fairfield, an avid birder (or burder?) and an active volunteer with Connecticut Audubon Society, has been named an L.L. Bean “Outdoor Hero.” The announcement was made on Monday, June 21 at Connecticut Audubon Society’s Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary in Fairfield. Alex received the award from Barbara Noe, Manager of L.L. Bean’s South Windsor store, and J.P. Fischer, L.L. Bean’s Active Department Outdoor Discovery School Manager.  
 
Alex, who is a resident of Fairfield, is the first youngster ever to win the L.L. Bean “Outdoor Heroes” Award. Introduced in 2007, the award is given each year to a select number of individuals who are helping to preserve outdoor spaces and activities for all to enjoy and are encouraging others to do so as well. Nominations are open to any individual who has made a significant contribution to creating, maintaining, teaching about or encouraging the use of recreational space and the species that inhabit it. “This year L.L. Bean received well over 100 nominations,” said Barbara Noe. “And one name rose to the top of the list: Alexander Burdo.” 
 
Alex had no idea that he was receiving an award when he came to Birdcraft on Monday at 10 a.m. with his grandfather, Jim Orrico. Alex thought he was joining Judy Richardson and other CAS volunteers in doing a nesting bird survey in the 6-acre Birdcraft Sanctuary. Instead, and in the presence of his family and CAS staff and volunteers, L.L. Bean’s Barbara Noe and J.P. Fischer presented Alex with an engraved lantern, a $500 L.L. Bean gift card, and a $5,000 check to Connecticut Audubon Society in his honor. “Alexander has set a fabulous example not only for his peers but also for all the adults who have been touched by his commitment to birds and the environment,” said J.P. Fischer. “As the person who nominated you wrote, you are truly extraordinary. You are a hero.”
 
“Alex Burdo is the kind of young person who inspires us all to do more and to do better,” said Robert Martinez, President of Connecticut Audubon Society. “Our organization is so fortunate to have Alex as a member and a dedicated volunteer. He is such an incredible role model for everyone who meets him.”
 
J.P. Fischer of L.L. Bean explained that through Alex’s nomination, a wonderful story unfolded, and she read excerpts from the nomination: “In the 19th century Mabel Osgood Wright engaged the talents of her friends with a commitment to social action to establish the Connecticut Audubon Society.  Her efforts were a defining example of citizen science: the collaborative effort of people volunteering together as advocates for birds, wildlife and environmental conservation to realize a shared vision. A century later, Alexander Burdo exemplifies Mrs. Wright’s underlying message that every motivated person can make a difference in how the greater community perceives and protects nature.” 
 
Fischer continued, “Alex is a perfect example for other students and novices of how citizen science can be accomplished by anyone of any age.”  At the age of 10, Alex had a 3rd
 grade project about birds.  He brought in field guides and binoculars to help his classmates learn about the birds around them.  Alex’s journey of engaging others in citizen science had begun! When Alex’s school, Unquowa School, set up the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project Feeder Watch, Alex served as a ‘consultant’ to the faculty coordinating the project. Alex
designed posters, created the calendar, posted pictures and assisted with tallying data. He helped younger students identify and count birds and served as a mentor to children new to birding. And Alex’s birding blog enables him to document bird species, their habitats and the conservation concerns they face, and then share this information with others with the tap of a finger.” 

“I have had many children come in to help with bird banding in the 20 years that I have been involved,” said Judy Richardson, Chairman of CAS’s Fairfield Regional Board of Governors and a master bird bander. “But Alex is different. Not only does he want to pursue a future in birding, he has already started! His passion bubbles out of him when he reports all the birds he has seen. And he doesn’t stop there. He has taken the time to teach anyone who will listen, by helping to establish Cornell’s citizen science Project Feeder Watch at his school, and by sharing his joy of the outdoors with his family and friends. Alex has become a respected young birder and he has the best attribute of good birders, which is a willingness to share. When bird migration is in full flight, I can rely on Alex to give me an enthusiastic report of all the birds that have flown in the previous night. He’s a great kid with a great love of birds. Connecticut Audubon Society, and ornithology in general, is lucky to have him.”
 
Alex, who has been birding since the age of six, also “hooked” his grandfather, Jim Orrico and together they have driven all over the country to go birding. But Alex considers Connecticut Audubon Society’s 6-acre Birdcraft Sanctuary as his favorite sanctuary, and Alex and his grandfather are often here birding or helping the bird banders. 
 
“I was surprised and truly honored to receive such a prestigious award,”  Alex said. “But my biggest thrill about the whole thing was being able to give the Connecticut Audubon Society $5,000 from L.L. Bean, money that could really make a difference for the wonderful birds we’re lucky enough to share this terrific state with.” 
 
“Our organization is based on the belief that every person, young and old, can make a difference in how the greater community perceives and protects our natural environment,” said Nelson North, Connecticut Audubon Society’s Director of Fairfield Operations. “Alex Burdo is a wonderful example of Connecticut Audubon Society’s mission in action.”
 
Barbara Noe explained L.L.’s Bean strong commitment to the outdoors. “It’s our heritage and our business, and we believe we have a strong responsibility to be good stewards of that resource. We share our customers’ belief in the value of the outdoor experience — of the physical and spiritual rewards that come from participating in outdoor activities.  And we share Connecticut Audubon Society’s commitment to encouraging young people to embrace the outdoors.” 
 
Noe noted that L.L. Bean has contributed more than $6 million in the last three years to conservation organizations, and that the company promotes stewardship and responsible recreation through all of its channels — on the Internet and in its stores and catalogue.  Website:
www.llbean.com/outdoorsOnline/conservationAndEnvironment/outdoorHeroes.html
 
Connecticut Audubon Society conserves Connecticut’s environment through science-based education and advocacy focused on the state’s bird populations and habitats. Founded in 1898, Connecticut Audubon Society operates nature facilities in Fairfield, Milford, Glastonbury and Pomfret as well as an EcoTravel office in Essex and an Environmental Advocacy program in Hartford. Connecticut Audubon Society manages 19 wildlife sanctuaries around the state, preserves over 2,600 acres of open space in Connecticut and educates over 200,000 children and adults annually. Working exclusively in the state of Connecticut for over 100 years, Connecticut Audubon Society is an independent organization, not affiliated with any national or governmental group. Website: www.ctaudubon.org.

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