by Beth Burnsed, Jekyll Island Authority

Jekyll Island, GA – January 27, 2009 – Beginning February 22, over 100 bird educators and enthusiasts from bird clubs, nature centers, school system, refuges and parks will be flocking to Jekyll Island for the 2009 Bird Education Network National Gathering. The Bird Education Network (BEN) Committee, along with the Council for Environmental Education and Flying WILD, chose Jekyll Island because of its exceptional birding and nature-based tourism opportunities.

Open to anyone with an interest in bird education and conservation efforts, the five day event encourages attendees to explore not only Jekyll Island but other nearby wildlife viewing areas as well. Guided field sessions include bird rambles on Jekyll Island, kayak trips in the intercoastal waterways, canoe trips through the Okefenokee Swamp and other outdoor adventures. Indoors, at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, the gathering’s host hotel, speakers and exhibitors share their knowledge and experience on subjects such as urban-based bird education, climate change, and connecting families to nature.

“We are thrilled to be selected as the host hotel for Bird Education Network’s 2009 National Gathering,” said Patty Henning, Director of Sales at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. “Jekyll Island has numerous opportunities for our guests to explore nature and it is gratifying to see these recognized in the birding community.” bird

As part of the Colonial Coat Birding and Nature Trail, Jekyll Island is home to over 250 bird species including Bald Eagles, Roseate Spoonbill, Painted Bunting, and Woodstorks. These species have attracted the attention of birders for years and are the reason for such annual events as Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding and Nature Festival. The annual festival is held the second week of October each year. Jekyll Island was designated an Important Birding Area by the Audubon Society in 2001.

“We were drawn to Jekyll Island because of its reputation in the birding community,” said Geoffrey Castro, Manager of Operations and Marketing for the Council for Environmental Education and member of the Gathering’s planning committee. “Jekyll Island offers one of the best opportunities for our conference attendees to come within viewing range of so many magnificent species.”

Registration for the 2009 National Gathering is still open. Daily registrations are also available. For registration and a full conference agenda visit

“With no less than 65% of the island protected as a natural sanctuary, Jekyll Island is the perfect setting for this bird education conference,” stated Jones Hooks, Executive Director of the Jekyll Island Authority

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