Georgia’s Youth Birding Competition turns 10 this spring, marking a decade of connecting young people with wildlife and positively impacting conservation in our state.
Coordinator Tim Keyes of the state Department of Natural Resources is enthusiastic about the future of the competition, including its reach beyond state lines as a model for the national youth birding foundation, Race 4 Birds. Formed in 2014, Race 4 Birds already has about five events scheduled.
“The exciting thing is the Race 4 Birds startup and how the Georgia YBC is multiplying,” said Keyes, a wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section.
He noted that the Youth Birding Competition also has developed “amazing competitors” who have gone on to study biology in college. Some former birding novices are now veterans, and bringing younger children under their wing in birding.
Keyes said it is this effect that makes him is hopeful for another 10 years. “We’ve really moved a whole group of kids from the ground level up through expert birders. And I’d love to keep that going."
The fun gets going April 25-26, when the 24-hour statewide birdathon for teams varying in ages from kindergarteners to high school seniors returns. The deadline to register is March 31. Complete details are at www.georgiawildlife.com/youthbirdingcompetition.
The competition and an accompanying T-shirt Art Contest are sponsored by DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division; The Environmental Resources Network Inc., or TERN, friends group of the Nongame Conservation Section; and, others including the Georgia Ornithological Society and the Atlanta and Albany Audubon societies. A banquet and awards ceremony will be held April 26 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield.
Teams register by one of four age divisions and compete against other groups their age. Participants can also volunteer to raise money for conservation organizations.
The Youth Birding Competition is free and designed for youth of all skill levels. Those new to birding can take advantage of mentoring opportunities offered through the competition.
Contestants spotted some 200 bird species and raised more than $2,600 for conservation last year. Fundraising by this year’s teams could push the total since the competition’s start past $20,000, another milestone. Fundraising is a voluntary component of the event.
The 2015 competition begins at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 25, and ends at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 26. Groups may use as much or as little of that time to count as many birds as possible throughout Georgia.
Although teams can start birding anywhere in the state, they must turn in their checklists at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center by 5 p.m. that Sunday. While judges examine and score checklists, participants are treated to a live animal show followed by an awards banquet packed with prizes.
The Youth Birding Competition also includes a T-shirt Art Contest. Deadline to enter is 4 p.m. March 9. Participation in the birding competition is encouraged but not required to enter the T-shirt Art Contest.
There is no charge for either contest, aside from the optional cost of overnight lodging at Charlie Elliott. Also, teams can share photos and updates on what birds they’re seeing or hearing on Twitter and Instagram. Simply tweet your photos or post them on Instagram with the hashtag #YBC2015. Tag us on Twitter @GeorgiaWild and on Instagram @GeorgiaWildlife.
For details about the competition, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/youthbirdingcompetition or contact Tim Keyes at (912) 262-3191 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about the Charlie Elliott Conference Center is available by calling Amy Glass at (770) 784-3122.
For more information on the T-shirt Art Contest, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/YBCTshirtArtContest or contact art contest coordinator Linda May at (706) 557-3226 or email@example.com.
Youth Birding Competition at a Glance
- What: Free bird-a-thon and fundraiser for youth from kindergarten through high school.
- When: April 25-26, 2015. Registration is open. Deadline to enter: March 31.
- Where: Teams can bird anywhere in the state, but must arrive at the finish line at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield by 5 p.m. April 26.
- T-shirt Art Contest: Deadline to enter is March 9. Details at www.georgiawildlife.org/YBCTshirtArtContest or contact art contest coordinator Linda May at (706) 557-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Registration: Amy Glass, Charlie Elliott Conference Center, (770) 784-3122
- Birding competition contact: Tim Keyes, (912) 262-3191 or email@example.com
- Online: www.georgiawildlife.com/youthbirdingcompetition
- During the competition: Follow and share your updates on Twitter (@GeorgiaWild) and Instagram (@georgiawildlife) with #YBC2015.