The 14th annual event is April 26–27, and youth from kindergarten to high school seniors are invited to join the adventure. No birding experience is necessary: Just a desire to learn and get outdoors.
Coordinator Tim Keyes of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said involving children and teens in birding, the outdoors and conservation has always been the motivation for the competition.
Even for youth new to identifying bird species, the event is “a great opportunity to learn, spend the outdoors in a fun, almost scavenger hunt atmosphere … and tap into a broader community of kids who are passionate about birds,” said Keyes, a wildlife biologist with DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section.
March 31 is the deadline to register for the 24-hour statewide birdathon. Register and learn more at www.georgiawildlife.com/YBC. Mentors are available for birding novices, but please sign up soon.
How does the Youth Birding Competition work?
- Teams of from two to five youth sign up and compete in one of four age divisions. (There is a prize category for first-year teams.) Participants can volunteer to raise money for conservation.
- The contest starts at 5 p.m. Friday, April 26, and ends at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27. Groups may use as much or as little of that time to count as many birds as possible anywhere in Georgia.
- But teams must turn in their checklists at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield by 5 p.m. Saturday. The youth are then treated to an animal show and a prize-packed awards banquet.
The competition also includes a T-shirt Art Contest. Deadline to enter the T-shirt contest is March 13. Participation in the birding event is encouraged but not required to enter.
There is no charge for either contest, aside from the optional cost of overnight lodging at Charlie Elliott.
The Youth Birding Competition and T-shirt Art Contest are sponsored by the DNR Wildlife Conservation Section, The Environmental Resources Network Inc. (TERN)—friends group of the agency—and others, including the Georgia Ornithological Society and the Atlanta and Albany Audubon societies.
Started in 2005, the competition has built an impressive record of helping develop an interest in birds and wildlife among youth. Some competitors have gone on to study ecology and natural resources management in college. Some former birding novices are now veterans and mentoring younger birders. Over the past 13 years, teams have also raised more than $20,000 for conservation.
For details about the competition, including registering online, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/YBC. Tim Keyes can be reached at (912) 222-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about the Charlie Elliott Conference Center, including lodging, is available by calling Robin Thompson at (770)784-3122.
2019 Youth Birding Competition
- What: Free bird-a-thon and fundraiser for youth from kindergarten through high school.
- When: April 26–27, 2019. Register by 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 27.
- T-shirt Art Contest: Enter by March 13. Details at www.georgiawildlife.org/YBCTshirtArtContest or contact art contest coordinator Linda May at (706)557-3226 or email@example.com.
- Registration: Online at www.georgiawildlife.com/YBC. For details on lodging at Charlie Elliott Conference Center, contact Robin Thompson, (770)784-3122
- Birding competition contact: Tim Keyes, (912)222-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Other details, including participation booklet and forms: www.georgiawildlife.com/YBC