The Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival started as a celebration of birding at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in 2001. The founders were looking for a way to provide a fun and educational birding experience to both the local community and visitors. We knew we had an undiscovered treasure in the diversity of habitats within the Verde Valley as well as great birding in Dead Horse Ranch State Park.
But Arizona State Parks was not able to handle an event of this type alone, so they approached the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce to partner with them in starting this festival. The opportunity for birders to gather together in organized field trips guided by the talented leaders from the Northern Arizona Audubon Society was a win-win-win situation for these three original partners.
By the second year, the community began taking notice of this small event and through the efforts of local and state resource agencies, community businesses, governmental entities, and local citizens, the program has grown continuously from that first year.
Our mission statement of providing a unique recreational experience to anyone interested in the natural world and fostering awareness of the importance of habitat for the enrichment of all life in the Verde Valley, speaks to the goals of the event. Through the enrichment of experiences and proving economic value in natural resources, stewardship of those resources is assured.
The festival is organized by a planning committee made up of all volunteers. Some represent agencies and organizations but they all donate their time throughout the year toward the success of the event. The committee has even adopted a section of roadway that crosses the Verde River and cleans up litter every other month. They also contribute their time to other work projects, programs and environmental organizations throughout the valley. These dedicated people are the heart of the event.
This is truly a community event. Funding started with the support of the Cottonwood Chamber but the event usually produces enough revenue to keep it going. Sponsors and grants help to keep cost down. Vans used to transport participants are usually donated by local businesses and organizations.
In 2005 the event was recognized by the State of Arizona as an Arizona Treasure. The event has grown into one of the most popular events of this type in Arizona. We share the popularity of birding in Arizona with Southwest Wings, Wings Over Wilcox and the Yuma Birding Festival, all annual trip-based festivals.
One of the key elements of the event is the educational aspect. Not only do we offer workshops for the participants but we work with the local schools to provide educational resources for the students. We offer an essay contest for students with the award being a good pair of binoculars to start them on this lifetime hobby plus their class is invited to the park during the event to enjoy programs planned especially for them. We also work with youth groups to foster the love of the outdoors, nature and birding. The festival also includes the Family Nature Fair where families can attend for free and learn about nature through fun activities. Again, all this is possible through the support of the community.
We are referred to as the friendliest birding festival and it is our pleasure to try to maintain that reputation. We also pride ourselves on the uniqueness of the trips, the knowledge of the leaders, and the value and satisfaction that the participants receive. We hope you enjoy your time in the Verde River Valley and participating in the festival. Welcome.
|Mission: The Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival provides a unique recreational experience to anyone interested in the natural world and fosters awareness of the importance of habitat for the enrichment of all life in the Verde Valley.