(Port Aransas, TX) – Celebrating its 20th year, the Great Texas Birding Classic was another record breaker for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. More species of birds were spotted during the tournament, there were more participants than in years past, and a record number of dollars were raised for conservation!

 The Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce was honored to receive a notable award for participating in each of the 20 years since the inception of the Classic. The Vicennial Award was presented to three companies/organizations that have participated through in-kind donations and event sponsorships for habitat conservation projects. Sharing the honor with the Chamber were Swarovski Optix, N.A. and NRG Energy.

 The Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce sponsored teams have brought home notable wins in their categories year after year (the past 20 years), and this year was no exception. The “Port Aransas Spoonbills” BIG SIT! team secured a second place win in the Central Coast division and both Port Aransas youth teams placed in their categories.  The BIG SIT! team has staked out their birding spot at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center for many years, and this year they counted 105 species of birds.  Team leaders Dr. Joan and Scott Holt were joined by faithful birders Tony Amos, Mikael Behrens, Julie Findley, Joan Garland, Nick Lorette, Sheri Johnson, and Colleen Simpson. 

Two youth teams from Port ‘A’ ranked high for the number of species spotted during the Classic in the Roughwings Regional Tournament. The Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce sponsored, “Port ‘A’ Pied-bills”, was chaperoned by Julie Findley, with birders Hannah Ramsden, Calligraphy Lauseng and Max Nienow. These young birders won 2nd place by spotting 101 species. The second team, “Woody’s Willets”, sponsored by Woody’s Sports Center and chaperoned by Dr. Joan Holt, consisted of team members Zoe Montgomery, Maddy Nienow and Hunter Stunz. They took third place for spotting 100 different species of birds.

Port 'A' Pied-Bills during the Roughwings Regional Tournament

Port ‘A’ Pied-Bills during the Roughwings Regional Tournament

 Julie Findley commented, “The “Port ‘A’ Pied-bills” and “Woody’s Willets” were excited to receive the news that we placed 2nd and 3rd in the Great Texas Birding Classic this year. Both teams practiced together all year and did the best we’ve ever done. These young people, in 4th through 6th grades, will carry the knowledge they have learned with them for the rest of their lives. It is a fun way to learn about our environment and to appreciate nature.”

 Ann Bracher Vaughan, President/CEO of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce, was “ecstatic to be recognized with the Vicennial Award as one of only three organizations who have supported the Classic for its 20 years of existence.  Living in an area that provides us the opportunity to observe such high birding counts gives us the privilege to continually place as winners, so it is not only incumbent on us but a privilege to support the Great Texas Birding Classic.  It is rewarding to know that our seasoned birders in the community give so much of their time and talent to train and encourage the youth of our community to follow in their footsteps and appreciate the wonderful nature that surrounds us.”