Jacobo Rendon wants today’s youth to remember, “We’re the ones who’ll be here in the coming years. We’re going to be responsible for our planet.” The 14-year-old is committed to doing his part to care for creation. He set out in March 2020 with his bird-studying ornithologist mother on a mission to spot, count, and record birds in their Colombian town of El Carmen de Viboral.
Jacobo and his mother used binoculars to spot the fowl. They borrowed a camera to document birds for a school project. Colombia is home to one-fifth of the world’s bird species. According to Colombia’s Association of Ornithology update list, there are 1,954 species of birds living in the incredibly biodiverse country.
Jacobo knowns dozens of those birds by name. He grew up drawing birds after school. In a video interview, the teen proudly rattled off the scientific names of several birds. He showed off his favorite illustrations, like one of a sparrow hawk. (What was his very first guide entry? A flame-rumped tanager.)
When his classes went virtual during coronavirus lockdowns, young Rendon began creating a photographic and illustrated bird guide to the area’s urban avian life. The teen plans to donate the guide to a local cultural center so others can learn from his work.
Jacobo posted a video of his work online. That’s when donations began to pour in to support his illustrated bird guide. People around the world sent encouraging messages. A nature photographer volunteered to give the young artist a free photography lesson. The Action for Nature nonprofit honored him with an award for the projct.
To continue raising money for his project, Jacobo offered to draw birds for people. Drawing commissions kept him busy for months and helped him collect more than $1,000. He used that to buy his first camera, some colored markers, and other materials.
Johana Reyes Herrera is Rendon’s mother. “It has been the motto of our home, our family—being able to serve the community,” she explains. “The fact that he’s doing it, and that he’s in line with this thought, makes his dad and me very happy.”
Why? Psalm 50:11 says, “I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.” Even young people can use their God-given gifts to help others understand and preserve God’s good creation.