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Black Excellence in Birding 

Saturday, May 28, 2022
5–9 p.m.

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four images of birders around a black fist

Join the Academy of Natural Sciences for our first-ever Black Birders Week event: Black Excellence in Birding. Don your finest cocktail attire and meet some of Philadelphia’s most well-known Black birders, including Tykee James, Corina Newsome, Jason Hall, and the Academy's own Anwar Abdul-Qawi. Joined by moderator Kiana Habersham of the Academy's Women in Natural Sciences program, they will share their experiences of birding while Black. Tweet an invite to a fellow bird lover, fluff up your plumage for a feathery date night or simply sip cocktails and savor delicious appetizers as you enjoy good conversation with fellow Black birders.

Black Birders Week is a weeklong series of events to highlight Black nature enthusiasts and to increase the visibility of Black birders, who face unique challenges and dangers when engaging in outdoor activities. The event was created as a response to the Central Park birdwatching incident and police brutality against Black Americans. The inaugural event ran from May 31 to June 5, 2020. The week of events was organized by a group of STEM professionals and students known as the BlackAFinSTEM Collective.    

  • $50 per person (All-Inclusive Ticket)
  • $35 Academy members and African American Museum Members (All-Inclusive Ticket)
  • $25 Event + Food (Drinks not included)
  • $35 Drexel Employees (All-Inclusive Ticket, must show DragonCard)
  • $35 Student (All-Inclusive Ticket, must show student ID)
  • $85 Double Date (Two All-Inclusive Tickets)
  • $160 Four Pack (Four All-Inclusive Tickets)

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Guests must be 21+ to drink and will receive wristbands 

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Special thanks to the African American Museum for their support of this program. 

Event Schedule: 

Meet, Greet and Learn
5 p.m.

Stroll the red carpet (no binoculars necessary) to Dinosaur Hall, where you’ll find delicious refreshments, cocktails and everything you need to know about which Black birders you should be following on social media. Then journey to North American Hall to observe their work and meet and chat with these well-known nature explorers. Take a look at photos of fellow Black birders doing their awesome work. 

How to get your photo featured at this event 

Submit your own Black birding photo to by May 20, 2022, for a chance to see it featured during the event.  

Bird Walks 
6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. (Walk length: 30 minutes) 

Indoor bird walks? Tell me more! Talk birds as you take a 30-minute walk through the Academy with Corina Newsome and Tykee James. They will have all the details on the birds you can spot in the Academy’s dioramas.  

Ornithology Collection Tours
6, 6:30 and 7 p.m. (Tour Length: 20 minutes) 

Go behind the scenes for incredible, one-of-a-kind views of the Academy’s world-renowned Ornithology Collection. Meet Academy scientists and learn how the specimens in the Academy’s collection contribute to scientific research and discovery.  

Birding With Women In Natural Sciences
5–8 p.m.

Meet the incredible participants of the Academy’s Women In Natural Sciences (WINS) program. Learn about their experiences birding in the field. Check out and touch awesome specimens from our teaching collection! 

Panel Discussion: Birding While Black in Philly
8 p.m.  

Hear real-life experiences of birding while Black in the Philadelphia region during this important panel discussion. Discover the stories of local Black birders and ask questions. 

Opening Remarks 

  • Maurice Baynard, Vice President, Community Learning and President’s Strategic Initiatives, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University 
  • Nina Ball, Director of Programming and Education African American Museum  


  • Jason Hall, Founder, In Color Birding Club 
  • Corina Newsome, Co-Organizer, Black Birders Week, Associate Conservation Scientist, National Wildlife Federation 
  • Tykee James, Co-Founder, Amplify the Future; Co-Organizer, Black Birders Week; President, D.C. Audubon Society; Trustee, Wyncote Audubon Society, the Birding Co-op and Justice Outside; Elected Councilor, Wilson Ornithological Society
  • Anwar Abdul-Qawi: Lead Keeper, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University  


  • Kiana Habersham: Senior, George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science, Women In Natural Sciences Program, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

More on the Panelists 

jason hall man with beard and hat on nature trail

Jason Hall 

Jason Hall is a Philly-area birder who has been exploring the Philadelphia region for exciting birds since 2001. His love for birds is a deep one that connects him with the outdoors, as well as amazing fellow lovers of the outdoors (especially birders). Jason works at a local pharmaceutical company and primarily focuses on supporting vaccine development and commercialization. He resides in Limerick, Pennsylvania, with his lovely wife and two amazing children. Jason is especially motivated to open the world of birding and the outdoors to historically underrepresented communities in the Philadelphia area. He believes that the natural world, and more specifically the great outdoor resources in the greater Philadelphia area, should be accessible and inspiring to ALL of its residents. In that light, Jason founded the In Color Birding Club (ICBC) in 2021 in order to create pathways for Black and brown folks to enter birding without the historic limitations that birding has carried with it. Jason regularly shares his experiences of being #BlackInNature on Instagram @thebirdingbeardsman and shares ICBC updates @incolorbirdingclub

tykee james man with red t shirt and binoculars wearing white cap

Tykee James 

Starting in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Tykee James was introduced to birding as a job and a responsibility to build trust, power and coalition in his own neighborhood. He has been a part of the birding community for a decade and has earned recognition as an organizer of the first Black Birders Week in 2020. Tykee is the co-founder of Amplify the Future, which seeks to amplify opportunities for equity in higher education, careers in conservation and joy in outdoor recreation.  

In 2018 Tykee moved to the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank peoples, the District of Columbia, to begin his employment at the National Audubon Society as the government affairs coordinator. There he has been grounded in his specialized role: organizing bird walks with members of Congress and congressional staff.  

Tykee is a highly motivated visionary leader. He co-founded Birder’s Fund and the Freedom Birders project, two feature programs of Amplify the Future, and is president of the D.C. Audubon Society. He sits on the board of the Wyncote Audubon Society, the Birding Co-op and Justice Outside and serves as an elected councilor for Wilson Ornithological Society. 

Before moving to D.C., he was an environmental policy advisor for a state representative and a field director for a state house election. He continues to develop himself as a leader through his membership in the Environmental Leadership Program and the Green Leadership Trust. In his personal time, he loves to cook, dance and work as a producer for Wildlife Observer Network, a wildlife media project he started with some wildlife-friendly friends in Philly, co-hosting two podcasts: Brothers in Birding and On Word for Wildlife.  

corina newsome woman with purple shirt standing in front of green trees

Corina Newsome 

Corina Newsome is the associate conservation scientist at the National Wildlife Federation and a recent graduate from Georgia Southern University with a Master of Science in Biology. Corina, who began in the field of wildlife science as an animal care professional, specializes in avian conservation and passionately connects people with the natural world through birds. Having experienced the hurdles faced by marginalized communities in wildlife conservation, Corina’s mission is to center the perspectives and leadership of Black, Indigenous and People of Color in wildlife conservation, environmental education and exploration of the natural world.  

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Anwar Abdul-Qawi 

Anwar Abdul-Qawi is a zoologist, conservation educator, photographer and animal keeper based in Philadelphia. Since 2010 he has worked with both people and animals finding new ways to inspire the public about the world and the millions of species that reside there. 

Whether it’s on the stage or behind the scenes, in the classroom or in the field, you can be sure you’ll find Anwar there. With a degree in Zoology and Biology from Delaware Valley University, he started working as a Conservation Educator at the Philadelphia Zoo. Searching for new ways to further himself, he currently works at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University as a lead keeper/educator of animal programs, connecting the general public to the importance of conservation.