New Monthly Events as Part of Bringing the Refuge and our partners to You

Festival may have been cancelled, but Friends are continuing with our mission to bring Festival content to you! Keep checking back here for updates on our monthly webinars!

Upcoming Webinars

Shore Bird Photography

Shorebirds can be quite tricky yet thrilling to photograph. Certain techniques–often highly specific to shorebird behavior–can give wildlife photographers an edge when attempting to photograph these remarkable birds. In this workshop, Cameron Darnell will explain how to approach the challenge of shorebird photography and how to create thoughtful, story-telling images. He will share descriptions and image examples highlighting various techniques to demonstrate how best to create a compelling shorebird portfolio.

Date: Friday, March 19th, 2021
Time: 4:30 MST
Cost: $15 + $3 registration fee
We are proud to work with Hunt’s Photo and Video on this exciting webinar

Cameron Darnell just graduated high school, is 19 years old, and enjoys nature, athletics, and music. He got into photography after birding for a while when he saw someone with a lens clicking shots on a bird walk seven years ago. It seemed so fun, so he tried it with a beginner digiscope setup. He was hooked immediately! He loves the creative aspect of bird photography, how each viewer sees the scene differently, and can create his or her unique vision of the subject.

“It’s fulfilling to provide an outlet for visual wildlife conservation as well through my bird photography.” – Cameron Darnell

Ethics of Wildlife Photography

The “Ethics in Wildlife Photography” program will review common practices to avoid or encourage when photographing subjects in the wild. Award-winning nature photographer Garrett Sheets will discuss the importance of respecting wildlife while taking photos and using techniques to ensure the animals safety. He explains how you can be mindful and considerate and still produce sharp natural images.

Being aware of your surroundings is important when photographing wildlife, however, it doesn’t just refer to the animals. Wildlife photography is a popular hobby; accurately reading situations and responding ethically allows you to take better images, and avoid disturbing others.
Date: Friday, April 23rd, 2021
Time: 4:30 MST
Cost: $15 + $3 registration fee
We are proud to work with Hunt’s Photo and Video on this exciting webinar

Garrett Sheets is an avid nature photographer from St. Louis, Missouri. At 19 years old he has been fortunate enough to travel all over the world with various organizations, bringing his camera to photograph exotic wildlife and landscapes. He hopes his images inspire others and encourage a deeper appreciation for the natural world.

His previous experience as a top bird watcher in the state of Missouri helped him gain proficiency in interacting with subjects in the field, and respect for the subjects he photographs. Birds continue to be his primary joy, however, he now appreciates them through the viewfinder of his camera and the images he creates.

Garrett began exploring the outdoors from a young age and loves sharing his experiences and stories with others. He enjoys getting down in the mud, climbing trees, and doing whatever he can to get the shot, however, Garrett always puts the subject’s safety first.

Photographing the Rio Grande

The Rio Grande river is among one of the most expansive and most diverse rivers in North America. It harbors an impressive diversity of wildlife, habitats, and supports an impressive ecosystem. It acts as a major migratory flyway for many species of birds, and is full of life during all seasons. Living along the Rio and photographing this amazing place almost daily offers a unique perspective into the life of the Rio Grande.
Date: Friday, June 25th, 2021
Time: 4:30 MST
Cost: $15 + $3 registration fee
We are proud to work with Hunt’s Photo and Video on this exciting webinar

As a young photographer specializing in wildlife and nature, and based in Corrales, New Mexico, Owen Sinkus has always been interested in exploring and capturing the natural world. He has been doing photography for 3 years, and has been part of Audubon’s Birdathon. He loves photography and nature, and is passionate about teaching!

Better Backyard Birds

Learn the basics, and a few advanced tips, on setting up your backyard to take better bird photos. What to look for in setting up your perches and to determine the best backgrounds. How to train the birds to pose where you want them. The goal of the class is to help you get your best pictures yet of your backyard birds!

Date: Friday, July 23rd, 2021
Time: 4:30 MST
Cost: $15 + $3 registration fee
We are proud to work with Hunt’s Photo and Video on this exciting webinar

A long-time photographer and passionate bird photographer for the past 6 years. Steve is an Olympus Educator who has spoken at many of the larger birding festivals in the country including the Festival of the Cranes. He teaches bird photography to groups around the county and teaches workshops in the Pacific Northwest. A selection of his bird images cam be seen on Instagram @old_steve1

Previous Webinars

Birds Birds Birds

Ruth Hoyt presented an overview program about birds, bird behavior and how she photographs them. This brand-new virtual program was derived from several in-depth programs she created since the Covid pandemic began a year ago.

Registrants were both entertained and educated by this virtual program!

Date: Saturday, February 13th, 2021
We were proud to work with Hunt’s Photo and Video on this exciting webinar

Ruth Hoyt is a full-time professional nature photographer, writer, public speaker, workshop leader, coach and consultant with 30+ years of experience teaching nature photography. She is also a Certified Interpretive Guide (national certification) and Certified Texas Master Naturalist (certified annually through Texas Parks & Wildlife since 2009).

She is best known for her Texas bird photography and professional guiding services on private south Texas ranches, but she also pursues landscape, flora, macro, night and much more in various locations across the United States.

Ruth used her Canon 1DX Mark III DSLR for most of her work until recently when she purchased a new Canon R5 mirrorless camera. She uses an iPhone X and DJI Phantom 4 drone for video and still work for selected subjects.

Her work includes large canvas gallery-wrapped prints as well as mounted prints using archival, museum-quality paper. Her work can be seen in permanent public locations in various states as well as local hospitals, private offices and visitors’ centers.

For current work, visit her Instagram account at @ruthhoytphoto or visit her studio at the McAllen Creative Incubator, 601 N. Main Street, McAllen, Texas. Contact her through her website at ruthhoyt.com, phone at (956) 330-2900 or email at ruthhoyt@gmail.com.

Tips to Instantly Improve Your Bird Photography

In this presentation, registrants took a journey with Todd & Lou into Bosque birding and capturing amazing imagery along the way. Through these helpful tips, registrants learned about preparing, gearing up, locating, observing, creating impactful imagery and how to share those pictures in a stunning and touching way. They learned about photographing birds, and incorporating video to help improve the experience.

Time: Friday, January 8th, 2021
4:30 PM Mountain Time
Cost: $15 + $2.75 registration fee
We are proud to work with Hunt’s Photo and Video on this exciting webinar

Todd Nettelhorst has had a passion for photography and filmmaking much of his life. He started photographing at a very young age when his father gave him his first SLR camera. His appreciation of photography grew while photographing throughout the country during the summer family road trips. Though his passion for the arts continued to grow, after  college, Todd worked in sales and marketing for a variety of companies quickly becoming successful in building relationships in a variety of industries. His path of becoming a professional photographer began while documenting the honesty in his children’s lives as others asked him to capture that same spirit for their family. His un-posed, un-planned, spontaneous style of photographing people living, helped him develop extreme  patience and a keen eye for documenting the personality and expressions that bring out the “real life” in people. Through years of delivering those precious moments for those families, other opportunities opened up in commercial photography including: events, architecture, engagements and various products. While still engaging in commercial work with new and established clients, Todd enjoys bringing his charismatic energy, unique photographic perspective and deep passion for the visual arts to others by helping them explore and develop the best of their creative abilities through coaching.

In his free time, Todd enjoys many outdoor activities such as climbing, biking, hiking, playing golf/hockey and spending time with his beautiful family. Todd lives in Chicago with his lovely wife Tambi and their three young girls.

Lou Nettelhorst, photography educator who helps photographers discover and explore the artist within. First and foremost Lou is a photography teacher. He is also an award-winning photographer and stunning image-maker. He is a man on a mission – a mission to make photographing fun, creative and rewarding for others through his unique teaching style. The hallmark of his style is his eagerness to share his professional experience and techniques, while always providing encouragement, constructive feedback, and (often groan-inducing) humor. Lou has been a teacher to thousands of aspiring photographers. He literally gets
“goose-bumps” when he sees the images made by his students, and counts their successes as his most treasured reward. One of his students recently commented, “You can be a great photographer, but not know how to teach. Lou is a phenomenal teacher and an amazing photographer!”
Whether a student is interested in macro, landscape, bird, architecture etc. Lou provides tips and pointers on that particular style. Regardless of the level of the student, from  beginner to advanced, Lou is uniquely qualified to help them improve their images and move to the next level.  A student of noted photographers Freeman Patterson, Sam Abel and Bob Sisson, Lou’s images have been published in Nature’s Best Photography , Outdoor Photographer , North American Nature Photography Association’s (NANPA) Member Showcase and Chicago Wilderness Magazine , as well as many newsletters. His photography has also earned numerous fine art exhibition awards. During his eight years as chair of the NANPA High School Scholarship Program, Lou received NANPA’s Outstanding Service Award, the Russ Kinne Recognition Grant and in 2019 became a NANPA Fellow. In 2010, he received the Kohout Outstanding Nature Photographer’s Award from the Chicago Area Camera Clubs Association (CACCA), representing 36 clubs. Lou is also a member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Chicago Botanic Garden, Riverwoods Nature Photographic Society (RNPS) and the Grayslake Arts Alliance (GAA).

Improving your Bird Photography with Cheryl Opperman

Thank you for joining us for this exciting webinar! With almost twice as many birders in America than golfers, it’s no wonder so many photographers strive to capture the perfect image of these wondrous creatures. Whether you photograph in your own backyard or in an exotic location, some simple preparation greatly increases your chance of capturing spectacular images. Award-winning photographer Cheryl Opperman shared her favorite locations and provided valuable insight into the tools and techniques needed to successfully photograph birds.

Friends are pleased to have partnered with Cheryl during October, 2020 as part of our monthly photography programs!


Cheryl Opperman is a nationally acclaimed nature photographer who has traveled to every continent in the world capturing spectacular images of nature, wildlife, and indigenous cultures. Widely published, her photographs have appeared in print, on the web, on television, and in solo and group exhibits, resulting in a list of clients or credits which include The American Humane Association, The Denver Post, the National Geographic Society, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Cheryl’s esthetic compositions, artistic use of light, and exquisite detail have been honored with several prestigious awards from organizations including The Earth Day Network, Nature’s Best Photography, the International Photography Awards, and the National Wildlife Federation. She was also featured as a leading female nature photographer by Outdoor Photographer Magazine and has appeared in on-camera interviews by 9News Denver, the Luminous Landscape, and Smithsonian Earth. Using the power of photography to inspire interest in the environment and other cultures, she has presented slide shows or classes on various topics to schools, camera clubs, and organizations including the Intermountain Regional Headquarters of the National Park Service, the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, and the North American Nature Photography Association. Cheryl is a 1992 honors graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial/Scientific photography.


Painting a killdeer with Wren Walraven

Thank you for joining us for this exciting webinar!
Wren Walraven, a local New Mexican artist that won the 2015 Festival Art Contest, answered questions, guided participants, and gave advice on how to create a mixed media killdeer painting. Click on the link below to download a materials list, killdeer outline for the project, and the tutorial video to get started today.
Follow the tutorial below and show off your painting! Send your painting to Friends and Wren!
Who is Wren Walraven?
My artwork is an expressive celebration of nature-inspired by wildlife using abstraction and abstract principles. As a child, I was fascinated and awestruck by the natural world around me. The birds at our feeders brought forth great adoration and excitement in their wild beauty. Little did I know, this would be the foundation of a life’s path.

Painting Tutorial

Video by Wren Walraven

Hummingbirds – Hummingbirds of New Mexico

Thank you for joining us for this exciting webinar on September 11th, 2020!
Friends, Sandra Noll, and Erv Nichols brought Hummingbirds of New Mexico into registrants home!
This delightful program showed registrants the secret world of these unique little birds, whose high-speed lives are largely invisible to us. Details of hummingbird biology and behavior were revealed through slow-motion video and beautiful photographs highlighting species seen at Bosque del Apache and elsewhere in New Mexico. The human-hummingbird connection was also explored with tips on attracting and identifying these tiny gems.

Keep an eye on this space for more updates!