"I still can't believe it," said Fenimore, who also recently published a book titled "Backyard Birds of Utah." "When they called to tell me, I kept asking them if they were sure."
The award is one of only five national awards the ABA gives out each year to honor different areas of contribution to the American birding community. Leupold Optics, which sponsors the Ludlow Griscom award, will present Fenimore with a plaque and a pair of Leupold binoculars at the ABA 2008 convention being held in Utah at Snowbird Lodge, June 24, 2008.
Leupold will give a $1,000 contribution to the ABA Education Fund in recognition of Fenimore's contributions in regional ornithology.
"We're all really excited for him," said Billy Fenimore, Jr., Fenimore's son. "It's like the Oscars of birding."
Just like the Oscars, simply being nominated is the first major step toward receiving the big award. In Fenimore's case, there were two separate nominations to help him on his way -- Neka Roundy, chair of the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival, and George Petrides, Sr., chairman of the Wild Bird Centers of America.
Fenimore has done a considerable amount of volunteer work with both groups, particularly in the area of educational opportunities. That volunteer work will continue on into this year's Great Salt Lake Bird Festival, scheduled for May 15-17, where Fenimore will be offering up his expertise in birding workshops.
It's that support of the birding community that the ABA is honoring. The award was named after Ludlow Griscom, an ornithologist working in the early 1900s who was the first to establish ways of studying and collecting information on birds without shooting and stuffing them. The first recipient of the award, Roger Tory Peterson, was one of Griscom's students and is considered to be the father of the modern field guide.
"Never did I dream I would find myself in the same company as those two," said Fenimore. "It's an honor just to have been nominated."