Bill Thompson, III, Young Birders Fund

BWD Editor Bill Thompson, III, points out a bird to his daughter Phoebe and son Liam.

Bill Thompson, III, was passionate about many things—music, family, birds, writing, and people. But by far, Bill’s greatest passion was introducing young people to bird watching.

Bill’s children, Phoebe and Liam, were just eight and four years old when Bill began writing his well-loved Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America in 2004. While working on this book, Bill worked with Phoebe’s class at her elementary school to test ideas and experiment with kid-style birding techniques, aiming to inspire eager young birders with his one-of-a-kind contagious charm, wit, and love of nature.

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Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America

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During an interview shortly before his passing, Bill was asked what he was most proud of during his 57 years of life. He didn’t hesitate in his response and answered proudly:

“The Young Birder’s Guide is the thing I hope will be my life’s legacy. It’s the professional project I’m most proud of in my life. I hope it continues to inspire young birders long after I’ve flown from this mortal coil.”

The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America won the silver medal in the Environmental Issues category of the 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, and, no doubt, will continue to spark new generations of young birders for years to come.

Before he died on March 25, 2019, Bill asked that a fund be established in his honor that would advance the cause of youth birding, providing ongoing education and experience for up-and-coming young bird watchers. Bill selected six organizations that were near and dear to his heart, each providing focused development of young birders through educational programming, mentoring, camps, and experiences. It was his greatest wish that these six stellar organizations could receive annual support through this fund, which would allow students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to fully engage in birding.

The Bill Thompson, III, Young Birders Fund has been established through the Marietta Community Foundation. Its mission:
Young birders follow BWD editor Bill Thompson, III, on a bird walk. Photo by Bill Thompson, III.

Young birders follow BWD editor Bill Thompson, III, on a bird walk. Photo by Bill Thompson, III.

“To generate funding for scholarships through organizations designated by Bill Thompson, III, that successfully provide outstanding educational opportunities, experiences, and mentoring to young birders and naturalists.”

The six organizations that will benefit annually from the Bill Thompson, III, Young Birders Fund are:

  1. The American Birding Association
  2. Leadership Fayette County (West Virginia)
  3. The Ohio Ornithological Society
  4. Hog Island Audubon Camp
  5. Tucson Audubon Young Birder’s Award
  6. Ohio Young Birders Group

with additional sponsorship from Carl Zeiss Sports Optics.

You can read more about these valuable organizations and their involvement with youth mentoring on each of their websites.

Donations to the Bill Thompson, III, Young Birders Fund can be made in several ways.
  • A donation can be made as an unrestricted donation to the general fund. When donating to the general fund, your donation would be divided equally between the four selected organizations. Please add “General Fund” to the notes area when giving online, or on the “Notes” line of your personal check.
  • You can designate your funding toward a single organization within the fund. Your donation will benefit the youth programming within the organization of your choice. Please put the organization’s name in the “Notes” line of your online or check contribution, and your designated donation will be directed that way.
  • You can designate your gift to multiple organizations within the fund. If you’d like to donate to two or three organizations, please list each organization to which you would like to donate, along with the amount you would like to donate to each one. Include this information in the “Notes” section of your online donation, or on the “Notes” line of your personal check.

Important information: Read before you donate…

Please note that all gifts to the Bill Thompson III Young Birders Fund will go through the Marietta Community Foundation.

Because the MCF is a 501c3, “non-profit” organization, they will issue you a letter confirming your donation. At the end of the calendar year they will also issue you a tax receipt for your charitable donation. Since Bird Watcher’s Digest is a “for profit” organization, we have chosen to partner with the MCF to provide the best giving platform for you, our generous friends!

Remember, you can easily make a donation either online or offline.

  • To donate online, follow the “donate online now” button on this page and include “Bill Thompson III Young Birders Fund” in the notes section of your online donation.
  • To donate offline, please mail a check directly to the MCF, and be sure and include “Bill Thompson III Young Birders Fund” in the notes line of your check. Their address is: Marietta Community Foundation / P.O. Box 77 / Marietta, OH 45750.

We will update the fund’s website periodically with stories of young birders who have benefitted from the Bill Thompson, III, Young Birder’s Fund. We hope to share inspiring stories of young people whose lives will be enriched and broadened by the birding experiences made possible through your generous gifts!

THANK YOU for joining us as we keep Bill’s devotion to young birders alive through the Bill Thompson, III, Young Birders Fund! Through your generous gifts, we hope to continue to support young birders and their passion for birding for many years to come.

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