Ian smiles next to birdfeeders.
Ian smiles next to birdfeeders.

Photo: Jennifer Thorstad
Photo: Jennifer Thorstad


Young and Inspired

Why a 12-year-old birder donated to bird conservation.

Imagine yourself as a 12-year-old again. What would you do if your grandfather gave you his stimulus check to donate to the charities of your choice? Would you have donated it to a bird conservation nonprofit? Well, that’s what Ian Thorstad did.

Ian is a 7th grader living in Denver, Colorado. Four years ago, his grandparents, who are birdwatchers, started taking him and his sister on their birding walks. “As we did it more, I started to enjoy looking for birds and identifying them and learning more about them,” explained Ian in an email interview.

Nearly every bird-lover has tried at one time or another to introduce a friend or family member to birds, only to be met with resistance or indifference. Fortunately, Ian has whatever it is that makes a person fall for nature. “I love being out in nature and watching birds because they are such amazing creatures,” said Ian. “I also love being with my family and exploring the great outdoors as I watch birds and learn more about them.”

With that love often comes a concern for conservation. In learning about birds, we inevitably learn about the threats they face. This is why Ian chose Audubon Rockies as a recipient of his gift. “I love birds and know that they are becoming endangered as people destroy their environment. I wanted a way to help them and educate other kids about ways we can help them,” he said.

It seems pretty natural right? Birds are inspiring and they need our help, so supporting local bird conservation efforts is an obvious choice. And that’s what thousands of Audubon supporters in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah do every year. But why is it so rare for young people to do so?

There are undoubtedly many reasons why. Kids are spending less time in nature, they have less capacity to donate and volunteer, there aren’t many friends their age to share their love of birds with, or they might see birding as uncool. We at Audubon Rockies are working to change that. With our Community Naturalist program, we’re helping youth find their own connections to birds and nature.

Luckily for us, Ian understands this. “I want to tell other kids that we are the future, so the more we know about our Earth and its animals, the better we can protect them and the brighter this world can become,” he said. “I hope my money will go towards educating kids about birds and ways we can protect them and their habitats.”

It will. Thank you, Ian.

If you’d like to join Ian in helping conserve birds and the places they need through education, advocacy, and science, you can make a donation to Audubon here.

How you can help, right now