History of the RGVBF
Back in 1994, eco-tourism and nature festivals were a relatively new and burgeoning concept. That year, the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce spearheaded the forming of a committee of enthused citizens, and the first Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival was scheduled for November 3-6, 1994.
The Festival was an immediate success with 750 participants from throughout the nation and abroad. A winning formula combined field trips to birding hotspots throughout the Valley, seminars and keynote lectures by internationally renowned birding experts, an active trade show, and engaging educational programs for children.
The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, Inc. is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation organized under the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act. The Festival has no paid staff-is entirely volunteer-run-but does receive significant support from the Harlingen Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as the City of Harlingen.
The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is recognized by the American Birding Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife, and birding experts throughout the nation as a leader in the field of ecotourism. The Festival has served as a model for events around the world. It has been touted in national, international, and specialty publications—The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Audubon, Southern Living, Bird Watcher’s Digest, WildBird, Australian Birds, Birdwatch UK—and more.
Impact of the RGVBF
Now approaching two decades of existence, the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival has had a sizeable economic impact on Harlingen and the Rio Grande Valley. Studies show area monetary inputs of millions annually. The effects of this economic powerhouse ripple out into crucial areas—conservation (critical in this fast-growing area), local awareness, youth involvement, and beyond.
Beyond the Obvious: Years of RGVBF Impact:
>40 acres of native, endangered thornbrush purchased and deeded to City of Harlingen with conservation stipulations
>Parrot/Parakeet Project–erecting nesting and roosting habitat structures, surveying the wild populations in the City of Harlingen, and fostering a protection ordinance.
>Education Outreach thousands of schoolchildren reached through The Raptor Project, Art and Writing Contest, Family Activity Area, and Youth Bird Walks
>Training Young Ornithologists, who have since gone on to the professional levels of research, tour leading, publishing, etc.
>Supporting Nature and Bird Artists, both established and up-and-coming
>Local Awareness, including programs for Spanish-speakers
>Across-the-Border Awareness, in the form of trips into Mexico and South America, carrying conservation messages and eco-tourism benefits
Your participation becomes part of this valuable Big Picture. Join us!