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Hilton Pond Center Receives Grants of $329,000 in Support of Operation RubyThroat and to Install "Schoolyard Hummingbird Habitats"

From 1999 through 2004, Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History has received grants totaling $329,000 in partial support of Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project.

The grants include $35,000 from The Christensen Fund and $2,000 from Perky-Pet Corporation for general support of Operation RubyThroat, plus $6,000 from The Foundation for the Carolinas Impact Fund to help underwrite installation of Schoolyard Hummingbird Habitats at seven schools in the counties of York (SC) and Mecklenburg (NC). The Center also received matching funds via joint awards of $17,500 from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and $17,500 from Conoco/Phillips Petroleum Company, plus another $36,000 from Agilent Technologies Foundation. The most recent award is a second $35,000 grant from Conoco/Phillips and NFWF for the 2003-2004 school year.

Perhaps the Center's most prestigious award is a 42-month $180,000 grant from the National Science Foundation in support of efforts to align Operation RubyThroat with The GLOBE Program. The Center is one of very few non-academic non-profits to receive funding from NSF.

Hummingbird GardenOperation RubyThroat is an outreach initiative of Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose Mission is "to conserve animals, plants, habitats, and other natural components of the Piedmont Region of the eastern United States through observation, scientific study, and education for students of all ages."

Center executive director Bill Hilton Jr. said "Operation RubyThroat is a cross-disciplinary project that capitalizes on broad public interest in hummingbirds among children and adults. Now in Year One of a three-year start-up, the project eventually will involve participants in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama, all of whom collaborate to study behavior and distribution of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird,Archilochus colubris. Ruby-throats breed in Canada and in 38 states in this country, and overwinters in Mexico and Central America, so we welcome observations throughout its entire range.

"This Web-based project is open to anyone," Hilton said, "but two of its main goals are to excite young people about science learning and to encourage them to build connections with peers in other states and countries where Ruby-throated Hummingbirds occur. The Christensen Fund's grant allowed us to waive the modest registration fee for teachers and students the Carolinas and New York during Year One, so we especially solicited participation from those three states."

The Impact Fund made ten awards for 2001-2002 and Hilton Pond Center was the only South Carolina recipient. The grant was used specifically to involve K-12 students from York County in South Carolina, and Mecklenburg County in North Carolina in installing Schoolyard Hummingbird Habitats. Schools submitted an application for up to $400 in grant money that was used to purchase plants, soil amendments, and/or landscape elements.

Grant check from The Impact Fund

"These funds allowed students and teachers to establish Schoolyard Hummingbird Habitats at selected schools," Hilton said, "with the added goal of helping young people understand the importance of protecting, rescuing, and preserving habitat for wildlife. At Hilton Pond Center, we believe that education is an extremely important part of assuring that resources for wildlife are protected now and for the future; hummingbirds and Schoolyard Hummingbird Habitats are effective tools in educating toward that goal."

Hilton visited all schools with hummingbird habitats in 2002, where students helped him capture, band, and release wild hummingbirds.

After targeting the Carolinas and New York in Year One (2001-2002 academic year), Hilton said Operation RubyThroat will expand in Year Two to 35 other states, plus the District of Columbia. The project will go international in Year Three when it expands to Canada, Mexico, and the seven countries of Central American.

Hummingbird Garden


The Christensen Fund, based in Palo Alto, California, provides grants to non-profits for programs in visual arts, conservation science, and K-12 education related to those fields and studio arts.The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Phillips Petroleum Bird Conservation Fund jointly award matching funds in support of conservation projects worldwide.

The Impact Fund is an initiative sponsored by The Foundation for the Carolinas and Voices and Choices of the Central Carolinas. It is designed to bring together young leaders from the region who are committed to making their communities better places; its mission is to engage them in an educational process that encourages philanthropy and funds innovative projects.

Perky-Pet Corporation manufactures and distributes hummingbird feeders and supports Operation RubyThroat with in-kind and financial donations.


For general information about hummingbirds, consult the Web site for Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project. An on-line search engine may help answer any specific hummingbird-related questions.

All photos & text © Hilton Pond Center


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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this website--including articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.