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Registration open for youth birding contest
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FORSYTH — Registration is open for the 2009 youth birding competition, a statewide event that blends fun, challenges and conservation.
The fourth annual competition is set for April 25-26, with a banquet and awards ceremony scheduled the evening of April 26 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield. Participants can begin registering teams from kindergartners to high school seniors as soon as today for free pre-competition birding programs, workshops and other training events.
The Youth Birding Competition is also free. The registration deadline is March 31.
This bird-a-thon and conservation fundraiser is based on the World Series of Birding event in Cape May, N.J., and sponsored by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division and The Environmental Resources Network Inc., or T.E.R.N. The competition is also growing, in interest and turnout.
“Pretty much every year has exceeded our expectations,” said competition coordinator Tim Keyes, a Wildlife Resources biologist with the division’s Nongame Conservation Section.
This past May, 126 youths from 3 to 18 years old took part. The 29 teams recorded a total of about 200 bird species and raised $3,642 for conservation in Georgia.
The competition is open to teams ranging in age from kindergarten to high school (participants compete against other teams their age, in four age divisions). Fundraising is a voluntary component. Teams can raise money to support their chosen organization on a per-bird or lump sum basis.
Youth who take part can be experienced birders or first-timers. The overall goal is to engage them in the outdoors, laying the groundwork for interest in bird and wildlife conservation. “A basic awareness is a critical first step down that road,” Keyes said.
Because there is much more to birds than simply listing them, organizers have added a “bird journal” activity for 2009.
Participants can turn in a journal that includes sketches and observations about their experiences with Georgia’s birds. Keyes said there is no better way to learn about birds, their habits, habitats and identification than to carefully observe draw and write about them.
The competition starts at
5 p.m. Saturday, April 25,
and ends at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 26.
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