Austin Teen Raises Money For Bird Conservation

Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453,

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AUSTIN, Texas — Walter Heymann was a two-time winner in this year’s Great Texas Birding Classic. Not only did his team take first place in the Gliders Division (birders age 14-18), but he also personally raised $956 that he recently donated this summer to the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, an unprecedented achievement in youth fundraising during the classic.

“I decided that it would make sense to combine the classic with fundraising, so I just asked family members and close family friends if they would pledge to donate $.05 to $2 per bird my team correctly identified,” Heymann said.

Heymann, 17, started birding as a child and said that his parents tell him he used to look at bird books when he was little.

“Just to spend and entire day focused on birding is a good way to get away from it all,” Hemann said of the Birding Classic.

The Classic is the world’s longest birding competition and has been organized by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department since 1997. This year, for the first time, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory in Lake Jackson came on board as organizing co-sponsor of the classic. The competition takes place on Texas’ Upper, Central and Lower Coasts, where teams compete in their age groups to correctly identify as many species of birds as possible. The winning teams each year select projects that buy, restore or improve Texas coastal bird habitat to receive prize money.

This year, TPWD partnered with the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory to co-host the Birding Classic and coordinate the grant money for the conservation projects associated with the Classic.

The two organizations are already gearing up for the 10th annual Great Texas Birding Classic, set for April 22-30 on the Texas Coast. Anyone can learn more or request a brochure about the 2006 event by contacting the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory at (866) 482-2527. Information is also on the Web sites for TPWD and GCBO.

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