Making Media Matter at the 20th International Meeting of BirdsCaribbean

Mark Yokoyama offers some advice during his event photography workshop. (Photo by Leno Davis.)
Mark Yokoyama offers some advice during his event photography workshop. (Photo by Leno Davis.)
Every two years, bird educators, scientists and conservationists from throughout the Caribbean and beyond gather for BirdsCaribbean’s International Meeting. At this year’s meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, over 200 international delegates from 33 countries/islands gathered to share the latest in Caribbean bird science, conservation and education. Representing St. Martin, Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama facilitated two media-related workshops during the meeting and released a free ebook, Look Sharp! Promote Your Organization with Great Photography.

Birds—Connecting Communities and Conservation was the theme for the meeting, and the event photography workshop presented by Mark Yokoyama focused on forging that emotional connection through the power of great images. Michaela Roberts of ECHO Bonaire found the workshop “very dynamic, fun and informative” and Leno Davis commended the hands-on portion as excellent, delivering “instant results.” Deanna Albert from the University of the West Indies commented that it was “good to know how to make non-governmental organizations visually appealing to the public—locally, regionally and internationally.”

The conference opened with “Jamaica Day—A Celebration of Jamaica’s Unique and Wonderful Birds” which included a dozen presentations about Jamaica’s birds, from the latest research in tracking Jamaican seabird populations to the role of birds in pest control on Blue Mountain coffee farms. The extended look at Jamaica’s birds also included reports on the launch of the Caribbean Birding Trail program in Jamaica and Jamaica’s historical contribution to ornithology. Other highlights included the announcement of the rediscovery of the Black-capped Petrel in Dominica over 150 years after it was last documented and the release of a new book—The Endemic Birds of Cuba—by Nils Navarro.

Look-SharpIn addition to over 120 presentations, workshops and panel discussions, the delegates enjoyed a variety of field trips to explore Jamaica’s wilderness areas first-hand. Conference trips visited Hope Gardens, Goat Islands, Cockpit Country, Portland Bight Protected Area, and the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, amongst other destinations. Many meeting participants were particularly eager to catch a glimpse of some of the 29 bird species endemic to Jamaica that can be seen nowhere else in the world.

The event photography ebook is available for download on the websites of both BirdsCaribbean and Les Fruits de Mer. The free, 26-page book draws from experience working with many talented photographers on St. Martin as well as advice from local journalists and media experts about how to use photography to promote non-profit events and activities. Mark, a member of BirdsCaribbean’s Media Working Group, also hosted a workshop to help bird educators partner more closely with the Media Working Group to promote their activities more effectively through traditional and online media.

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