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story + photos by Brooke Goodman, Cathy and Jim Gero Acadia Early-Career Fellow

On November 4th, 2023, I delivered the Youth Keynote presentation at the Frontiers in Ornithology Symposium in Hockessin, Delaware. I was nominated by Seth Benz, Schoodic Institute’s Director of Bird Ecology, for the opportunity, which involved giving a 25-minute talk focused on my journey in ornithology and bioacoustics. At an evening social event before the symposium, I met the other speakers, along with the event organizers and volunteers. I also got to connect with some amazing ornithologists, including the keynote speaker for the symposium, Dr. Viviana Ruiz-Gutierrez. It was fun to be among their ranks for an evening, and to have conversations with prominent scientists in a casual setting.

The best part of my talk was the audience questions. The symposium was geared toward students aged 13-21, and I enjoyed how their questions were less rigorous scientific inquiries, but more personal questions about how I found motivation in my work. After my talk, multiple students came up to me and expressed gratitude for being honest about how I found academic research difficult, but rewarding. Knowing that they felt less alone in their struggles after hearing me speak meant so much to me.

All of the speakers had unique backgrounds, and I learned a lot from their talks. From radar aeroecology, bioacoustics using drones, the history of red-crossbill subspecies, the symposium had it all! A major point I took from the conference was that your life can take you in dozens of different directions before you find exactly what you want to focus your career on, and taking time to discover that is completely normal.

After the symposium, Seth and I visited Hawk Mountain, the place where Seth began his career in ornithology. It was fantastic. I got a tour of their science center, met a lot of their science team, and saw where Seth had worked for so many years! I was inspired by the community at Hawk Mountain. It felt like everyone from senior researchers to the gift store managers cared greatly for each other and knew each other well. I aspire to one day foster such a community at my own workplace. I feel this trip has greatly contributed to my professional development, by both introducing me to amazing ornithologists, and also new ideas in ornithology.

Brooke Goodman gives two thumbs up as she stands next to a roadside sign for the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.
Brooke Goodman gives two thumbs up as she stands next to a roadside sign for the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.