SAMPOSIUM – Sam Pate Naturalist Symposium

A lecture series in honor of Mr. Sam Pate plus children’s programming 
and overnight birdwatching experience with David Sibley at the Historic W.C. Bradley Farms.

SAMPOSIUM's inaugural event focuses on Mr. Pate's greatest passion - birds.

One of the true joys of living in the south, perhaps even a notch above great barbecue and compelling college football, is the year-round symphony of birdsong that plays outside our windows.  Bird fever, which in some blossoms into a bona-fide addiction, is something that we plan to embrace and promote during our upcoming two-day Sam Pate Naturalist Symposium at the Columbus Botanical Garden. Named in memory of a local and regional birding luminary and nature-lover extraordinaire, this inaugural festival for Sam Pate will feature both a day of family activities aimed at introducing children and parents to the wonderful world of birds, as well as a day of lectures on all-things ornithological.

This series of speeches, emceed by W.C. Bradley Farms Wildlife Biologist Ashley Turner, will feature keynote speaker David Sibley, Norman Winter, Ryan Chitwood and Chris McClure.

Mr. Sibley is the author and illustrator of the series of successful guides to nature that bear his name, including the New York Times best seller The Sibley Guide to Birds. He has contributed art and articles to Smithsonian, Science, The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Birding, BirdWatching, and North American Birds, and wrote and illustrated a syndicated column for The New York Times. He is the recipient of the Roger Tory Peterson Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Birding Association and the Linnaean Society of New York’s Eisenmann Medal. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts. 
We hope you will join us for this special event. We live in a part of the world that is home to many unique habitats, and these natural spaces play host to a spectacular diversity of bird species throughout the year. Use this chance to celebrate that heritage, to learn, and to honor the memory of a man who devoted his life to fostering a deep relationship with the wild world around us in all those whose lives he touched.
Please note – If Sam Pate touched your life and you would like to see SAMposium continue annually, please donate to our SAMposium Fund. This fund will be strictly used to secure future speakers and cover the expenses of the festival.  Donation and ticket links are included in the link below.

Mr. Sam Pate was a beloved teacher whose enthusiasm for birds, critters, and the great outdoors spread like wildfire through to his students, colleagues and friends.

Here’s to continuing his legacy as SAMPOSIUM aims to share with all of Columbus the wonders of the natural world and how it relates to us as human beings.

Schedule of Events

8:30 – 9:00: Check-in, donuts and coffee
9:00 – 9:30: Introduction

Topic: Planting to Attract Birds and Pollinators to Your Landscape
9:45 – 10:45: Norman Winter

Topic: Conservation in the Digital Age: How Technology Empowers Communities to Protect Birds
11:00 – 12:00: Ryan Chitwood 

12:00 – 1:30: Lunch – optional onsite food trucks or off-site, as you desire

Topic: A Bird’s Eye View of Climate Change
1:30 – 2:30: Chris McClure, Director of Global Conservation Science for the Peregrine Fund

Topic: The State of the World’s Raptors
2:45 – 3:45: David Sibley, Author and illustrator

Topic: The Art of Identification
3:45 – 4:15: Questions and Answer with David Sibley
4:15 – 5:00: Book signing with David Sibley


Sunday, May 2, 2021

Six stations will be set-up throughout the Garden to help kids engage with nature and learn more about birding. You and your children can move from station to station and enjoy the offerings at your leisure. Some stations have start times, but you are free to come and go as you please.
Stations include Raptor Ramble, Bird Mobile Station, Create Your Own Sibley Bird Watching Field Guide, Go on a Bird Watch, Bird Books and Mr. Sam Pate’s Classroom.

Five stations are set-up throughout the Garden to help kids engage with nature and learn more about birding. You and your children can move from station to station and enjoy the offerings at your leisure. Some stations will have start times, but you are free to come and go as you please.

Stations Include:

1. Raptor Ramble – 2:00-2:50; 3:00-3:50; 4:00-4:50: Meet raptors up close and personal and learn about Auburn University’s Raptor Rescue Program.

2. Bird Mobile Station – 2:00-2:45; 3:00-3:45; 4:00-4:45: Come to our mobile making class and create a bird mobile with elements of nature. Supplies included.

3. Create your own Sibley Bird Watching Field Guide – 2:00-5:00: There will be bird watching guides supplied for children to color. This guide will serve as the Field Guide Book for the “Going on a Bird Watch” portion of the kid’s programming.

4. Going on a Bird Watch – Begins at 3:00 and tours every 15 minutes thereafter: After creating your bird watching guide, come to the Camellia Garden for a guided bird watching trail walk where you will match the birds in your new guide with birds hidden in the forest.

5. Bird Books, Birthday Cake and Story Time – 2:00-5:00: It’s a party on the patio with guest actor’s reading a collection of children’s stories. There will also be birthday cake to celebrate Mr. Sam Pate’s birthday week. Children’s books about birds and nature will also be for sale.

6. Mr. Sam Pate’s Classroom – 2:00-5:00: Experience Mr. Pate’s exotic classroom recreated inside the Farmhouse. You will find birds’ nests, stuffed critters, reptiles, bugs, and more. Curated by Mrs. Nan Pate with input from Mr. Sam Pate’s former students.


Saturday/Sunday, May 1-2, 2021

We are hosting a once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy an overnight experience and birdwatching tour with David Sibley at the historic W.C. Bradley Farm. Sibley is a world renowned ornithologist, author and illustrator of the Sibley Guide to Birds. Your participation in this unique experience supports the SAMPOSIUM fund to ensure this naturalist symposium continues annually.

The event includes an epic overnight stay at W.C. Bradley Farms, casual dinner at the Grass Creek Lodge and an early morning breakfast before heading on a guided birdwatching tour with David Sibley. Overnight options are below. Accommodation packages plus birdwatching spot range from $600-$1100.

Dates- Saturday, May 1, 5:30 pm arrival. Sunday, May 2, 7:00 am light breakfast and heading out!

PLEASE NOTE: This particular birdwatching experience is geared towards adult audiences. Please only folks 16+.


While we are excited about the inaugural SAMPOSIUM, our hope is that will become a yearly event that will bring inspirational and engaging speakers to Columbus.  This can be done only with the support of our community.  The Columbus Botanical Garden has set up a dedicated fund to ensure the continuation of Mr. Pate’s passion for teaching.  All gifts and contributions to this fund will be used only towards growing SAMPOSIUM into a self-sustaining celebration of nature and education for people of all ages in Columbus and beyond.

If Sam Pate impacted your life please consider contributing to the SAMposium Fund.