I'm asking for a ridiculous amount of money--more than my annual income in any year since I left the Cornell Lab in 2010. This is a one-time request. Why?
I've been producing my radio program, For the Birds, which airs on several community and college public radio stations, since 1986 (the above photo shows me at the KUMD studios in the late 80s). My program is also available for free as an iTunes podcast , and most of the transcripts are posted with photos on my blog .
I've written and produced the program as an unpaid volunteer almost all those years (In 1989, KAXE got a grant so I was paid $3,600 for a year, and I wrote a blog for an optics retailer from 2005 and 2006, which subsidized the radio show). Other than that, I haven't asked for or received any financial support for the program except in 2012, when two of my friends each gave me money to produce programs about their choice of birds. Since 1999 or so, I've been doing all the production work at home using my own equipment. My daughter developed the database that powers my website, which she also developed. The program has always been a labor of love.
I do not like to ask people to support my radio program and blog, where I put the transcripts and accompanying photos. The stations that carry For the Birds have a hard enough time staying afloat without my siphoning off contributions they badly need. I try to focus my programs entirely on birds and what they need, so don't want to make continual appeals for support. Usually I've been perfectly happy with the way things work out. (My original plan was to be a nun, in which case I'd have taken a vow of poverty, so earning money was never a goal of mine.) But just this once, I'd love to get a really good iMac (the way I configured it, it would be $3,623.33 with tax) and, in a dream world, a Canon 300 mm f2.8 lens that is ridiculously expensive ($6,099 last I checked). If there were money left over, I'd buy a new camera body (Canon 80D) just for that lens.
I normally want people to donate their hard-earned money to organizations that help birds, the environment, or humans in genuine need, or to use their money to help them see and enjoy birds. So I promise: this is a one-time only request, and the campaign will end on April 30 no matter what.
What's in it for you besides receiving my sincere gratitude?
For $5 or more I will send you a 4x6 print of my favorite photo of the Most Adorable Bird in the Universe, the Cuban Tody.
For $25 or more, I'll send you one 8x10 print or set of notecards of the photo of your choice from my flickr gallery.
For $50 and above I'll send you a print AND notecards.
For $100 or more, I'll produce a program/podcast about the bird topic of your choice, and acknowledge your gift on the podcast and my blog.
For $500 or more, I will come speak to the group of your choice on one of the topics listed on my webpage , on a date that works for both of us. (If it's further than 100 miles from Duluth, I'll also need you to cover travel expenses.) Feel free to email me to check on dates etc. before you commit to donating. This is a lot of money!
For $1,000, I will do a program for the group of your choice with Pip the Birding Dog, on a date that works for both of us. (I'll need travel expenses if it's further than 100 miles, and will need to drive because I'm scared to bring Pip on a flight.) Feel free to email me to check on dates etc. before you commit to donating. This is a LOT of money!
I am not in any kind of desperate need. This computer and camera lens would be wonderful luxuries that would make my work both better and easier. I'll be extremely grateful for any help at all toward this very specific, one-time-only request.
- Katie and Michael Erickson
- Laurie Reynolds
- Janet Martin