YACOLT – With her natural curiosity, love of animals, artistic ability and a penchant for exploring the outdoors, Yacolt teenager Kiana Rose makes a wonderful poster child for the international Wild Neighbours Society’s Get to Know Program.
The goal of the Canada-based program, founded in 1999 by renowned naturalist and painter Robert Bateman and Mary Clark, is to inspire closer connections between youth and their wild, outdoor animal neighbors.
In early October, Rose, a 16-year-old Yacolt homeschool student, joined a select group of youth at the 2015 Get to Know Unconference event in Calgary, Canada.
An award-winning photographer and dedicated birding enthusiast, Rose presented her detailed bird journals, bird art and project showing the growth cycle of various birds in the Pacific Northwest.
The motto of the Get to Know Program is “Connect. Create. Celebrate.” The annual “Unconference” event is a way of bringing youth together and fostering a deeper connection to nature through the creative arts.
Merging nature and art is a familiar concept for Rose.
“She started drawing a really young age,” recalls Mark Rose, Kiana’s father. “She took some art classes and she would draw. Then she got interested in birds, and she started sketching them and then taking photos of birds.”
By the time she was in middle school, Rose was keeping daily bird journals – filled with bird sightings, Rose’s observations, bird facts and tiny, detailed bird sketches – and wearing her camera on short nature walks, in search of a good birding photo.
When she was just 11 years old, Rose took a stunning black and white shot of flying geese. In the middle, one goose stands out in stark detail, while the rest of the flock is slightly blurred. The end result is a stunning portrait that won Rose her first photo contest. From that point on, she entered local, regional and – through the Get to Know Program – international photo contests.
Soon, the contest wins turned into trips. When she was 12, Rose won a Get to Know photo contest and was invited to attend the program’s weeklong camp in Ontario, Canada. Most recently, her award-winning photos captured the attention of the judges at the Get to Know Program’s Unconference event, and netted her an invite to the annual youth leadership summit.
Rose and her father, Mark, traveled to Calgary the first week of October, and said the conference was an excellent way to meet other young naturalists and artists.
“It was nice to meet kids my age who had similar interests,” Rose said of the youth-led Get to Know event in Calgary.
The conference gave Rose the chance to share her extensive knowledge about Pacific Northwest bird species and about her own learning process.
Along with her presentation on the growth cycle, from egg to fledgling, of various bird species, Rose also shared her bird journals and showed how the journals have changed as she herself has grown older and gathered more knowledge.
“You can see that, as the journals progress, I have more details and I’ve added more sketches,” Rose says, showing a slide of her past birding journals. “It’s showing my own growth as a birder.”
At her home in Yacolt, Rose spends her days studying, going on fieldtrips to wildlife areas and good birding spots, and hanging out with her family, which includes her mom and dad and her four siblings: Quinn, 13, Ciela, 11, Carina, 9, and Sully, 6.
Rose often goes on nature walks with her mother and older siblings, and says she listens for familiar bird sounds. When she spots a bird, Rose jots down the date and circumstances in her extensive bird journal. She is familiar with the distinct calls of many birds and has even spotted some unusual birds, including a bard owl, in her own backyard. Now, she’s passing her knowledge on to the younger generation.
“I’ve been teaching my brother and sisters to identify some birds and I gave my older brother my old camera,” Rose says.
As for Rose, the teen has already had a few art shows in the Portland/Vancouver metro areas, and sold enough photos to buy her own camera – a used digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera that she found on eBay. Now, she takes the camera with her almost everywhere, in the hopes of seeing a bird in flight or a flock of birds in the sky, maybe perched together on a single branch, and shooting her next award-winning picture.
For more information about the Get to Know Program, visit www.get-to-know.org.
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