The 15th annual Georgia’s Youth Birding Competition is April 24-25. Youth from kindergarten to high school seniors are invited to "join the adventure."

No birding experience is necessary, only a desire to learn and get outdoors, organizers state.

Coordinator Tim Keyes, a Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist who started the competition in 2005, said he is excited about the opportunity to introduce birds to a new group of youth and encourage experienced birders as they hone their skills.

“From 7-year-olds who can identify 20 bird species to teens who can identify 160, this program offers a fun opportunity to spend a day outdoors finding birds as part of a friendly competition, complete with T-shirts, a banquet and prizes,” said Keyes, who works with DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section.

“In a world increasingly dominated by screens and technology, the Youth Birding Competition is one of the leaders in recruiting kids outside into the natural world learning about birds.”

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 are asked to 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 24, and ends at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 25. 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. The deadline to enter the T-shirt contest is March 6. 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.

"The competition has built an impressive record of helping develop an interest in birds and wildlife among youth," organizers state. "Some competitors have gone on to study ecology and natural resources management in college. Other former birding novices are now veterans and mentoring younger birders. Over the past 14 years, teams also have raised more than $27,000 for conservation."

For details about the competition including registering online, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/YBC. Keyes can be reached at 912-222-0424 or tim.keyes@dnr.ga.gov. Information about the Charlie Elliott Conference Center, including lodging, is available by calling Amanda George at 770-784-3122.

For more on the T-shirt art contest, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/YBCTshirtArtContest or contact art contest coordinator Linda May at 706-319-0211 or linda.may@dnr.ga.gov.

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