Student Programs

Scholarships & Grants

Conference Scholarships. The WFO Student Programs committee is pleased to offer scholarships for students to attend the annual conference. Up to ten scholarships are offered to students between the ages of 12 to 22, with eight scholarships for students in Grades 6 through 12, and two scholarships for college students working toward a bachelor’s degree.

The scholarship includes most expenses and fees associated with the annual conference, including: registration fees; a full-day field trip for both Thursday and Sunday (as space allows); box lunches for the full day field trips; a morning field trip and/or workshop for both Friday and Saturday morning; two tickets to the banquet for the recipient and a family member; and up to four nights hotel accommodations at the conference center, including breakfast for one person. [Please note that a double room will be reserved for those attending with family member(s)].

Download the application instructions here.
Download the application form here.

Additional details about the upcoming conference are provided by clicking here.

Research Support Grants. The research grant program supports graduate and undergraduate student research and internships in the field biology of birds. The program supports WFO‛s mission of promoting the study of birds throughout western North America and supports the mission of the WFO Student Programs Committee to help develop the next generation of field ornithologists and sustain a long term bond between young ornithologists and WFO. Application deadline is March 6, 2023.

Download the application instructions here.

44th Annual WFO Conference Student Programs



Western Field Ornithologists (WFO) hosts an annual conference that student birders are encouraged and welcome to attend. In addition to great people, there are field trips, workshops, scientific presentations, sound identification panels, expert identification panels, a keynote speaker, a book auction, a banquet and more. About 240 birders, including two dozen student birders, attended the 2019 meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The conference hosted two afternoons filled with cutting edge science as ornithologists presented their work on various topics including: Great Horned Owl pigmentation; cognition in the Common Raven; Cave Swallow expansion; isotope analysis to study ornithology; exporting dietary shifts of Golden Eagle; assessing influence of food subsidies in Cooper’s Hawks, nestling development and fledging in Black-throated Gray Warblers, prey composition in Osprey; avian biology and responses to climate change; molt migration in Mexican monsoon; Bendire’s Thrasher survival as related to vegetation characteristics; and geographic variation in the Flammulated Owl.

Thursday night’s welcome reception was held on the campus of the University of New Mexico. It was fun to meet like-minded individuals, share delicious food and have an insider’s look at the Southwestern Museum of Biology.

The bird sound identification team challenge with Nathan Pieplow was demanding as always! Nathan seems to make this quiz harder each year. In the end, it was the incredible effort from the team erroneously named the Inadequate bannanquits that came out on top. Congratulations to all the young birders and mentors for participating in this really fun event.

Friday night’s youth reception was held by the pool where young birders got to meet old friends, make new friends, and mingle with some of the best birders in the country.

Saturday morning found the students out bright and early for a field trip to Tingley Beach and the Bosque Ponds. It was a great morning of birding and lifers were ticked off the list! This was followed by a youth trip behind the scenes at the Museum of Southwestern Biology. This was a chance to get inspired to think more about birds and migration, molt, species, sub-species, status and distribution, and it likely inspired a young birder or two to think more about research opportunities.

Wrong-eared Owl coverAfter the Saturday afternoon science sessions, there was the infamous bird expert identification panel. An amazing group of ornithologists, Kimball Garrett, Jon Dunn, Shawneen Finnegan, Ryan Terrill and John Garrett really showed how much they know about birds and identifying birds and we all learned a lot.

Dr. Christopher Witt presented his pioneering research over a delicious banquet at the final night of the conference.

We are already looking forward to the 45th Annual Conference in Reno, Nevada in August 2021.

2019 Scholarship Recipents: Click here.