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Noah Ventola: Environmentalist and Entrepreneur

Noah and his daughter, Madelyn, with a birdhouse they built together

Noah Ventola’s four-year-old daughter, Madelyn, knows her chickadees from her nuthatches. But her first bird was a bluebird, and that is where this story begins.

Noah and his family live in Durham, Connecticut (between Hartford and New Haven), in a wooded area rich with bird life. Noah, a regular BirdNote listener, had heard a story about citizen scientists participating in the Christmas Bird Count. “The story stuck in my head,” he says. “It got me thinking about how to get Maddy to use her hands, to get involved in a project, and to be her own little citizen scientist.”

Noah, who spent his childhood exploring the outdoors, is a lifelong environmentalist. “I’m intrigued by nature,” he says. “BirdNote introduced me to a world I was interested in, but didn’t know much about. The program drew my attention to birds.”

Inspired by BirdNote and the abundance of bluebirds near their home, Noah and Maddy embarked on a birdhouse construction project. Noah crafted the pieces for a birdhouse with just the right dimensions for bluebirds, and Maddy helped assemble the houses, paint them, and choose the locations for placement. Maddy was thrilled to discover that the houses, which they had placed in February, were occupied by April. “Maddy asked a lot of questions,” Noah recalls. “She wanted to know more about the birds and if they were raising babies.” 

Maddy and one of her birdhouses

From there, Maddy’s interest in birds and the outdoors blossomed. The family put up birdfeeders and they purchased a Connecticut bird book.

As Maddy became more involved in backyard birdwatching, Noah saw the potential for their nestbox project to bring the wonder of the outdoors to more children while generating much-needed revenue for local schools. His fledgling company, Ultimate Kids, offers nestboxes, bathouses, and birdfeeders crafted from locally sourced wood. “As a teacher, I became frustrated with constant budget cuts for instructional supplies, field trips, and student programs,” Noah explains. “My organization provides small-scale funding opportunities to fill this gap. And I hope the kit will get more kids off the couch and in to nature.”

The products generated by this “one-man woodworking shop” are growing in popularity. Last spring, Noah’s local public radio station, WNPR in Hartford, offered the Ultimate Kids nestbox kit as one of its spring fund drive gifts—bringing the fruits of his inspiration full circle.

“BirdNote has broadened my awareness and opened my eyes,” says Noah. “It reminds us how important and fragile our natural world is.”

Check out the Ultimate Kids birdhouse kit at www.ultimate-kids.com. The birdhouse will attract a variety of small birds, including chickadees, wrens, and Tufted Titmice.

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