Bluebird Experience Over the Years

04-26-12 0 By: Shelly Sutley, edited by Hayley Kubler

We are approaching our 6th year of our Bluebird Trail at Hickory Hills Golf Course!  The importance of our efforts has constantly evolved from our “small” project in the garage.  In the past, I had sent a letter that chronicled my and the community’s journey.  The blog is a new medium for me, so I’ll be moving it on here with an update about our 6th year: The Year of Inspiration.

2007: The Year of Grief

I needed something to encourage me after my good friend Sherry Ross died of breast cancer and Multiple Sclerosis attacked my body.  Personally, I was coming to terms with the severity of my illness and the fact that Sherry had left us.  The Bluebird Restoration Project gave me hope and something to hang on to.  I found healing in Mother Nature and God, and I wanted to share those creations with my daughters and Sherry’s daughters as well.  She wanted us to know that nature healed and gave hope, so we supported each other.

2008: The Year of Relief

I made contact with Larry Bennet of Beaver Creek Reserve who lined up a Bluebird Task Force consisting of Rick Koziel, Terry Glanzman, Jim Schwiebert, and Angie Sommers.  They came to my rescue, answering questions I had about what I was finding on the Trail!  Dr. Kent Hall of the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW) kept tabs on me and provided the motivation I needed to keep learning and keep sharing.  I began to realize that this data was bigger than myself, and bigger than the golf course!  I wanted to find a way to use technology to connect our data to the people who needed it, and that was when I was contacted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  I told them about my goals of connecting nature and technology in a meaningful way.  That was when I learned about NestWatch, which is Cornell’s online data system for songbirds.  I then learned what a Citizen Scientist is; just someone like me who loves birds!  I couldn’t wait to teach the community about this development.

2009: The Year of Technology

It became clear to me that there were so many ways for nature and technology to connect in a meaningful way.  I realized that I was onto something incredibly healing and exciting as my own health improved and I met so many others in the community.  I realized that our children were experiencing nature through Farmville, watching digital corn grow.  They need to experience it hands on!  Better yet, they could use these tech skills to help document weekly findings.  We created a “Bluebird Task Force” and joined Facebook to connect with our community!

2010: The Year of Sharing

The Bluebird Task Force and I realized that we needed a better way to show others the miracles happening right in our nest boxes.  We reached out and received support from the Best Buy Geek Squad, and when WalMart donated a big screen television, we were ready to share the magic!  People were now able to watch a live feed inside one of the boxes.  What a wonderful thing to share!  John Norby, owner of Hickory Hills Golf Club, believed in us and because of that, we blossomed.  Because he shared our belief of taking care of our community, we were able to connect with so many people.

2011: The Year of Hope

Everyone involved in the Bluebird Restoration Project began to realize the importance of our community.  What a powerful influence it had over our children!  We were beginning to see our efforts reflected in each other.  We learned to just “be”, be free to explore nature and find the extraordinary in the every-day ordinary.  Watching children build nest boxes, hungry for knowledge, was so wonderful.

2012: The Year of Inspiration

This year has brought so many exciting opportunities!  This year, we got on the front page of the Leader-Telegram, and my phone has been ringing off the hook!  Everyone wants to learn more about bluebirds and how to monitor.  I am already honored and overwhelmed!  NestWatch has continued to grow and now I encourage everyone to try it out.  We also launched this new website this year, the Bluebird Experience.  As I learned from the beginning, this is bigger than me.  Everyone can have their own Experience . . . and I want to hear about it!  How has this project changed your life?  How has nature healed you?  We don’t know what next year brings, but for now it’s time to clean our your boxes, repair broken ones, and place new boxes in your yards!  Your data really does make a difference.

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