MDC exhibit helps Liberty youth receive national honor

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Kansas City
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Kansas City, Mo. – Marky Mutchler of Liberty was recently named the 2015 Outstanding Young Birder of the Year by the American Birding Association. A sophomore at Liberty North High School, Marky topped a national field in a birding and conservation contest for youth ages 14-18.

The contest requires entrants to show their skills at keeping a field notebook, conservation and community leadership, illustration, writing and photography. Combined scores for all categories determine the winner.

Marky took top honors in illustration, second place in conservation and community leadership, and third place in photography.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) helped with her conservation and community leadership effort. Marky exhibited her bird-related art and photography this past October at MDC's Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in Kansas City. Also, she gave a talk on birding at a Burroughs Audubon Society meeting held at the Discovery Center.

Both birds and butterflies are an interest for Marky. She enjoys how they connect her with nature, and their beauty and mysteries.

"Bird species have diversity in things like their behaviors," Marky said, "and there's much we don't know about them. Also, just being out in nature is nice."

Marky likes to go birding afield in Missouri with her family and friends. Birds caught her attention as a young child and her interest in them became serious as she got older. She has also studied birding at Camp Chiracahua in Arizona.

"To win the competition a young birder needs to be well-rounded, with good attention to detail and the ability to communicate their achievements and activities," said Jennie Duberstein, who coordinates the contest for the American Birding Association.

Regarding conservation and community leadership, judges look for young birders who make a real effort to involve their community in projects and make a clear contribution to conservation.

"Marky has been a camper at the young birder camps I run in the summer for each of the past two years and I've gotten to know her pretty well," Duberstein said. "She's a remarkable young woman and I'm just thrilled that she has gotten this richly-deserved recognition."

The American Birding Association is a private, non-profit group devoted to increasing knowledge, skills and enjoyment of birding. The organization is based in Delaware City, Del. For more information about the ABA Outstanding Young Birder of the Year, visit

Missouri is a great place to watch birds. MDC offers public conservation areas with a variety of bird habitats such as forests, wetlands and prairies. For more information on birds and birding, visit