Carena Pooth has been a NYSOA volunteer for fifteen years, holding many positions including that of president, and being honored with NYSOA's Gordon M. Meade Distinguished Service Award in 2012.
How long have you been a NYSOA member?
“Since 2002, when I was working on the atlas and felt inspired to support the organization.”
What positions have you held in the organization (and for how long)?
“I’ve been a Director or Officer every year since 2005 except 2013, and served as president 2010-2011. In 2002 I rebuilt the website and have been maintaining it ever since. In 2008 I got the NYS Young Birders Club going, after 15-year-old Hope Batcheller had approached NYSOA about sponsoring such a group, and I have run NYSYBC ever since. I have also been editing and producing the official checklist booklet since 2003, and compiling County Listing data submitted by birders around the state since 2009.”
What is it about NYSOA that keeps you involved?
“NYSOA is unique in its exclusive focus on wild birds and conservation in NYS. It enables me to make a contribution that really matters to me. The added glue that holds me is the opportunity to work with intelligent, like-minded volunteers who get along and get things done. We have fun and I’ve gotten to know many wonderful people around the state through my involvement.”
How long have you been birding?
“Since 1985, when I bought my first bird book while I was on a business trip to Florida. From then on, every new species was a fascinating puzzle, and I got hooked very quickly. I soon found that birding was an excellent antidote to my work life, which – though fun and exciting – was dominated by conference rooms and computers. Birding became a lifelong passion.”
What is your favorite place to go birding in NYS?
“I don’t have one! Living in the Hudson Valley, I have a huge choice of fairly local spots. But I enjoy exploring new places all over the state – something NYSOA helps me do. NYSOA field trips are terrific; Young Birders Club field trips often take me to new places; and I love the field trips at the annual meeting each fall. County listing motivates me (or gives me an excuse!) to find good birding places regardless of the “real” reason for my travels.”
“Not a species, but a family: Warblers. I enjoy the challenges they pose. And they reward the perseverant birder with brilliant colors and lovely patterns as they flit about among the leaves. The “jewels of the forest” moniker is more than apt.”
There are many ways to enjoy birding. Which aspects do you find most rewarding?
“I love watching birds with great optics and just taking in their sheer beauty. Bird identification is lots of fun, whether by sight, by ear, or even after the fact by studying photos and field guides. I love to observe bird interactions and I learn something new every time I spend time doing so. On a deeper level, birding heightens one’s awareness of the natural world. Birding around the year keeps me connected with the seasons and the cycle of life, motivating me to fully experience the sights, sounds, and scents of nature just as people have done for tens of thousands of years. Birding brings me joy!”
Are there any particular books that have fundamentally influenced you as a birder?
“During the early years of my birding “career,” I read the Peterson Guide to Eastern Forests from cover to cover. Not having previously studied ecology, I was fascinated and found myself being much more intrigued by everything around me when I went out into the woods, especially by the interrelationships among different kinds of plants and animals, and by the adaptations that have evolved over millions of years. Birding is my focus and my passion, but it continually opens the door to the greater natural world.”
Which bird books do you use the most?
“The Sibley Guide is the field guide I use most. When faced with a “photo quiz” image, I use The Crossley Guide with The Sibley Guide or Stephenson and Whittle’s Warbler Guide the most. I have the Sibley Guide and Warbler Guide apps on my phone, and I have the Kindle version of Crossley so that I can look at that on my phone, too.”
What do you do for a living?
“My first career was teaching high school math. After 8 years I moved on and became a systems programmer at IBM for 3 years. Next I spent 14 years in technology management at Prodigy, an online/internet pioneer, and then a year at another internet startup. Finally, I did some independent business consulting before deciding to retire a few years ago. Like many retired people, I am so busy that I wonder how I ever got anything done while I was working!”