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spectr17
11-01-2007, 09:22 PM
Registration Opens For Annual Georgia Youth Birding Competition

11/2/07

Forsyth, Georgia - Attention all parents, children, teachers, youth clubs, birders and outdoor adventurers: Georgia's Youth Birding Competition needs YOU! The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (DNR/WRD) and The Environmental Resources Network, Inc. (T.E.R.N.) will hold the third annual Youth Birding Competition at WRD's Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center on May 2-3, 2008, and participants can begin registering youth teams as soon as today for free pre-competition birding programs, workshops and other training events.

"Inspired by the World Series of Birding event in Cape May, New Jersey, this bird-a-thon/conservation fund-raiser is a great opportunity to get kids excited about birds and the natural world while helping support a nongame wildlife project or conservation organization of their choice," says WRD wildlife biologist and contest coordinator Tim Keyes.

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). Fund raising is a voluntary component of this event. Teams can raise money to support their chosen organization on a per-bird or lump sum basis.

The competition starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 2, and ends at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 3. Groups may use as much or as little of that time to count as many birds as possible throughout Georgia. Although teams may start birding anywhere in the state, they must arrive at the "finish line" at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield by 5 p.m. Saturday. While judges examine and score the final checklists, the participants will enjoy a live animal show followed by an awards banquet with amazing prizes including new binoculars for the grand-prize winning team.

To help participants learn the birds of Georgia, contest organizers will pair pre-registered teams with experienced birding mentors to meet throughout the year to take part in birding programs, workshops and other bird-related events (Flying Wild curriculum, Backyard Bird Counts, Christmas Bird Counts). By organizing and registering youth teams now, this free pre-competition program will help participants develop the knowledge needed to make the competition a success. The registration deadline is March 31.

Georgia's second Youth Birding Competition was held April 28-29, 2007, resulting in more than 200 species identified by 25 teams, which were comprised of 100 youth ranging from 4 to 18 years old. Many teams crisscrossed the state, some starting the count at the beginning competition hour, while many others stationed themselves in one area of the state counting birds throughout the day.

"The winning team with 126 species was the 'Golden Eagles,' a high school team from Macon," Keyes said. "This past year's competition participants found and identified far more species of birds in a day than most adults will recognize in a lifetime."

"I can hardly put into words what it meant for us," said Molly Evert, one of the team mothers. "It was definitely the highlight of our year. In fact, for both of my children, Knox and Colin, it was probably one of the highlights of their life. That is just how special the weekend was to them."

Many participants were awarded a pair of binoculars, field guides, bird CD-ROMs and other door prizes donated by Eagle Optics, Atlanta Audubon Society, Georgia Ornithological Society, Droll Yankees and The Environmental Resources Network.

New for 2008, the Youth Birding Competition is offering a T-shirt Art Contest that is open to Georgia residents in pre-K through high school. The grand-prize winning artwork will appear on the 2008 YBC T-shirt. Other participants can win Michael's gift cards to redeem for art supplies.

For more information on the Youth Birding Competition T-shirt Art Contest, visit WRD's Web site at www.georgiawildlife.com (http://www.georgiawildlife.com/) and click "Nongame Animals & Plants - 2008 Youth Birding Competition," or contact Linda May at (770) 784-3059 or Linda_May@dnr.state.ga.us

For more details on Georgia's Youth Birding Competition and how you can register a team for this exciting event, contact contest coordinator Tim Keyes at (478) 994-1438 or Tim_Keyes@dnr.state.ga.us

2008 Youth Birding Competition

What: Free bird-a-thon and fund-raiser for youth from kindergarten through high school.

When: May 2-3. 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. May 3.

New for '08: T-shirt Art Contest. Details at www.georgiawildlife.com (http://www.georgiawildlife.com/) or from Linda May at (770) 784-3059, Linda_May@dnr.state.ga.us.

Contact: Contest coordinator Tim Keyes, (478) 994-1438; Tim_Keyes@dnr.state.ga.us, or visit www.georgiawildlife.com (http://www.georgiawildlife.com/) and click "Nongame Animals & Plants - 2008 Youth Birding Competition."

Media Contact:
Tim Keyes, wildlife biologist/contest coordinator - (478) 994-1438
Kitty E. Spivey, senior public relations and information specialist -
(229) 227-5422