Mary’s Message

The first thing you need to do is look, she said. Huh?

I had never been bird watching before but, having been a long-time recreational, backyard bird watcher, I felt sure I knew what I was doing. I could identify finches, nuthatches, flickers, cooper’s hawks, wrens and other Maryland birds.

So, when our guide said, “It might seem really obvious, but really look,” I felt pretty confident.

I hiked off on the trail about 600 yards before I realized that the group was still standing in the same spot. One had his camera lens focused on an eastern phoebe high up on a dead branch. Another had her binoculars zeroed in on a female red-winged blackbird in the marsh. The guide had her bird App open to identify all of the nearby birds by their song. She indicated that a red-eyed vireo was nearby.

I had yet to see a bird.

I didn’t just learn more about birds that day – their markings, behaviors and distinct features, but I also learned more about patience, focus and purpose. With these skills, I could fully enjoy the journey and achieve my goals. We saw 23 different birds that day.

So, it’s no wonder that I love our 2022-23 theme: Leading with Intention. We hope you do too. Our bird logo was designed prior to my recent guided bird watching but seems even more relevant and meaningful now.

As UMA leaders look to guide their organizations forward, we must be intentional about where we are going, understand the landscape, bring the right tools and learn from others who share our passion and commitment.

What are you intent on accomplishing this summer for yourself and your organization? Please send me an e-mail and share with me.

(A special thanks to our birding guide Monica Hoel, Alumni Director at Emory and Henry College, an institution that shares our United Methodist connection and commitment to excellence.)