Project Description

Project LIFE and Bern’s Birds have collaborated to manufacture specialized woodpecker feeders that are starling and squirrel proof. Joe Berns, the CEO of the JF Berns Company is a self-described bird lover and problem solver. He combined his passion and talents to create a unique patented woodpecker feeder that Project LIFE interns manufacture at Butler Tech. The Berns family and JF Berns Employees are passionate about giving back to their community and wanted to give Project LIFE interns the opportunity to practice manufacturing skills as part of their transition program. Project LIFE interns spend a portion of their day creating and packaging the feeders that have been sold all over the country. So far, Bern’s Birds has sold over a hundred feeders on Amazon, Nature’s Niche, and Meyers Garden Center.


Project LIFE Interns use 4 different specialized machines created and modified by Joe Berns so that all individuals with disabilities can participate.


The goal of this project is to give our interns a unique manufacturing experience that allows them to create a product from start to finish. Interns have had to learn each of the ten steps that are required to complete and package a feeder. The Bern’s Birds Project has given all of the Project LIFE interns a first time manufacturing experience that has given them the opportunity to use hand tools, specialized parts, dyes, and packing equipment. One of the most beneficial parts of this project has been the feedback received from customers on Amazon. Customers love the product but also love the personalized note hand signed by one of interns that describes Butler Tech’s transition program. Project LIFE interns love to read the reviews on Amazon as it gives them a deep sense of pride in their craftsmanship and product. Interns have learned a variety of different real world transferable skills including: manufacturing, packaging, supply and demand, cost effectiveness, quality vs. quantity, customer service, advertising and marketing.

"This entire project has been a gratifying experience for both Project LIFE and Berns Birds. The interns are participating in a very unique experience that essentially encourages them to run their own business by creating the product, shipping the product, and monitoring customer service on Amazon. Many interns have found that they have strengths and weaknesses in specific manufacturing steps. One thing that we have done differently since we started the project is cross train all interns in all manufacturing steps. This allows them to work on both their strengths and weaknesses. I would encourage all transition intervention specialist across the country to find a unique project such as creating bird feeders, dog treats, or coffee carts and make it a focal point of their program. One thing that that this project has helped me realize about my interns is that we have no limits. This project has challenged my interns on many occasions and we have failed forward. Interns learn from their mistakes and are able to correct them. Interns strive to meet their weekly quota and take pride in the packaging process that concludes the week."
— Jake Krause, teacher
"My favorite part of creating the feeders is the dying process for the wood dowels. This has required me to think about all of the steps in the process."
— Amelia M., student
"I love watching a feeder be created from start to finish."
— Chris A., student
"We were so nervous about our first Amazon review, our first one finally appeared and the customer loved it."
— Julian G., student

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