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WBFI Member Spotlight - Karen Burns


Karen Burns, Vice President of Operations at Cosmed Group and Board Member of WBFI, has been with WBFI since the 1980s when annual meetings were held in Kansas City, MO. At the time, meetings were held in conjunction with the Western Seedsmen, and Karen was one of the few females that attended these meetings.  When asked if she had pictures to share, she took a trip down memory lane with WBFI and sent fun pictures from past WBFI events.

Nyjer® seed is what brought Karen to the Wild Bird Feeding Institute. Burns stated, “During the 1980s, the USDA would test imported Nyjer® seed for one weed seed (dodder) and if it was found dry, heat treatment would be required. Our New Jersey facility treated all imported Nyjer® seed, and I was very involved with the USDA.” A Nyjer® importer and WBFI member suggested that Karen check out WBFI, and the rest is history. Since, Karen has pioneered studies on Nyjer® quality testing, which is in phase III as of June 2023, and sponsored the trademark Nyjer® then gifted it to the Wild Bird Feeding Institute’s network to use for the benefit of the whole bird food industry.

Karen has witnessed numerous changes unfold since joining the WBFI board and serving on various committees for more than 30 years, showing how far both the wild bird feeding businesses and the Wild Bird Feeding Institute have come. In her own words, "One notable transformation occurred during our meeting in Kansas City (KC), where a new requirement for Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) registration was implemented. This particular event marked a significant milestone for me, as it turned out to be my inaugural and final speaking engagement at the WBFI annual meeting where I felt truly at ease. The introduction of FSMA registration brought about a shift in the industry's approach to food safety, leaving a lasting impact on the proceedings of the gathering.”

One of Karen’s most enjoyable achievements with WBFI is the inception of the Event Planning Committee (EPC). Back in 2007, WBFI needed to find new locations for annual meetings. Karen stated “To find a new location, I traveled with the then WBFI Executive Director to two locations in Texas, and we decided on San Antonio. It was at the next Board of Directors meeting in Florida that I suggested the need for an Annual Meeting Committee, later named the EPC, that I would chair for many years. The EPC works for many months to plan great annual meetings for the WBFI members’ education, enjoyment, and networking.”

We asked Karen which WBFI member benefit has been most instrumental to her. She concluded with, “Most beneficial to me is the wonderful, intelligent, generous people I have met over the years. There are many fond memories of members and individuals that have given so much effort to the success of the WBFI.”

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