Community Champions: Georgia Southern graduate student helps organize ‘Black Birders Week’

Community Champions: Georgia Southern graduate student helps organize ‘Black Birders Week’

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Corina Newsome first got into birding as an undergraduate student in Ohio. But as a graduate student at Georgia Southern, she helped make the hobby more inclusive.

The variety of experience is what first drew Newsome to the hobby she discovered while studying biology.

“We feel this internal richness when we see more and more and more birds, we see more species. There’s just a richness associated with that.

But Newsome did not discover as much diversity in birding that she saw through it.

“Sciences in general, black people as well as plenty of other black indigenous people, are pretty underrepresented given our population in the United States. But in the wildlife sciences, it’s marked.”

And in birding, it is pronounced, which is why the Georgia Southern graduate student helped organize Black Birders Week, a series of online lectures, seminars and gatherings designed to introduce the activity to a wider range of people.

“It essentially opened up the whole world to participate. Anyone anywhere who had access to the internet could join us by simply clicking a hashtag and sharing their thoughts. … we were able to establish a whole new community of connections with black people from around the country and around the world to share our experiences and be excited that there are more of us here and kind of just glory in that.”

Newsome, who is completing her thesis this semester, was accustomed to seeing a similar lack of diversity throughout college.

“Being a black woman, I have typically been one of the few or only black person in all of my classes and vocational spaces.”

But this WTOC Community Champion was excited to change that makeup where she thought she could, while sharing her passion with others.

“I simply can’t get enough of it. It’s like a treasure hunt and you never know what you’re going to find, but it’s going to be good … the event removed barriers and invited people to listen to what we had to say … to be able to contribute knowledge to young, black professionals from my experience is probably one of the most important outcomes for me.”

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