• Scotland's Bird Club

    Young Birders


Helping Young Birders

Join 'SOC Youth Connect' Facebook Group! Search for us on Facebook and request to join! The Club hopes this will provide a platform for members to organise attending local branch activities together, to share details of their own areas of expertise that fellow young birders might be able to benefit from and for facilitators to be able to share opportunities, job and volunteer positions that could be of interest.

SOC is in the privileged position of having a membership composed of skilled ornithologists, scientists, educators and creatives, working within a wide range of industries and fields. In recent years particularly, the Club has sought to explore ways in which this wealth of knowledge and expertise can be passed on to ensure that there will be a future generation of naturalists recording, conserving and speaking up for our country’s birds.

Much of the Club’s development work centres around supporting, encouraging and developing young naturalists which SOC aims to do via a variety of ways.


Discounted Conference Places

Discounted Conference Places
The Club heavily subsidises places for students and under 30s at SOC’s Annual and joint Spring Conferences

Young Birders’ Training Course

Young Birders’ Training Course
A week-long funded opportunity teaching 16-25 year olds essential bird survey skills and techniques

Discounted Student Membership

Discounted Student Membership
Students (and juniors) can benefit from a substantial discount on the Club's annual joining fee and still enjoy all of the perks membership offers


Promoting A Focus On Nature’s voluntary mentoring scheme which matches mentees with mentors operating across a broad range of disciplines


SOC/BTO Scotland Youth Events

The SOC and BTO Scotland hold a series of free, monthly events for people under 30. Delivered on Zoom, attendees will enjoy a diverse programme of interactive online workshops and talks from some of Scotland’s top ornithologists, naturalists and creatives. Details of upcoming talks are available on our Events page.

Visit our Events Page


Discounted Conference Places at our Annual and joint Spring Conference 

The Club recognises the networking potential and opportunities for furthering one's knowledge attending conferences presents, and thus heavily subsidises the registration fee for students and recent graduates up to the age of 30 at SOC’s Annual Conference. The Spring Conference (the Scottish Birdwatchers’ Conference) which takes places in collaboration with BTO Scotland each March, also offers discounted places to students and recent graduates up to the age of 30. Details of each conference will be posted on our Events page, when available.

Visit our Events Page


Young Birders' Training Course (YBTC)

Click on the video below to see some highlights from Amy Hall's (2017 Young Birders' Training Course participant) week on the May! Plus click here to read the 2018 group's blog about their time on the May! 

Launched in 2014, the Young Birders' Training Course is only opportunity of its kind in the UK. A joint venture between SOC and Isle of May Bird Observatory the course provides an opportunity for six young birders, aged 16-25 years to spend a week on the Isle of May gaining experience to help them progress with future involvement in wildlife recording and conservation.

The course presents a unique opportunity for budding ornithologists, both in its setting and teaching options. Participants gain a thorough introduction to daily recording of birds and other taxa, species monitoring, hands-on experience of bird ringing, and activities such as visible migration watches and co-ordinated seawatching counts. Outwith the scope of most university curricula, these skills are essential attributes for those embarking on a career or role in wildlife recording, surveying and conservation. Read about the impact the course has had on participants here


Discounted Student Membership

Students and juniors can take out membership to the Club for just £14 annually, with access to all of the benefits membership offers including four issues of the SOC’s quarterly journal, Scottish Birds annually, access to a programme of talks and outings across Scotland, the opportunity to borrow books from the Library, alongside a number of other benefits.



Are you looking to be mentored or could you mentor young naturalists?

A Focus On Nature is a voluntary organisation run by a voluntary committee of nature conservationists and enthusiasts. 

The organisation’s aims complement the educational remit of the SOC and include: ensuring a transfer of skills and knowledge between generations, working with other youth networks and environmental organisations to create a youth conservation movement in the UK and promoting nature conservation and natural history to young people.

AFON runs and manage a successful mentoring scheme which matches volunteer mentors operating within a broad range of disciplines (including Practical Conservation, Nature Writing & Journalism, Art & Design, Policy & Campaigns, Filmmaking & Television, Science, Ecology & Surveying, and Academia & Research) with mentees: budding conservationists/writers/ scientists and similar, eager to network with, and learn from, experienced professionals.

Think you could benefit from being mentored?

Take a look at the range of skills and expertise on offer.

Could you be a mentor?

AFON is looking to grow their mentoring programme in order to build on the support and expertise on offer to young conservationists. Encouraged by the success of the Young Birders’ Training Course, the SOC is looking to build on the training and support the Club offers young naturalists. As such, the Club is hoping to sign a number of ‘SOC Mentors’ up to the scheme.

Prospective mentors complete a two-page form providing more information about themselves and their specific expertise, alongside a head shot, which is added to AFON’s Mentors directory, as hosted on the organisation’s website.

Mentees complete an application form and shortlist three potential mentors they feel are the best suited to their individual career needs. AFON distributes its application to each prospective mentor, who will then have the opportunity to comment and either approve or reject applications at its discretion and for whatever reason – no explanation is required.

Mentoring can take many different formats: from a distance, e.g. via the internet, over the telephone, via social media, or on a much more personal basis, offering work experience, meetings, talks or lectures. Mentors are encouraged to give advice tailored to the individual mentee, appropriate to their circumstances (the scheme is open to mentees aged 18 and above).

As a minimum, AFON expects mentors to:

  1. Send an introductory email explaining background and current career, thus entering into correspondence with the mentee
  2. Answer all emails fully
  3. Give advice on careers
  4. Assist in the construction of CVs
  5. Where appropriate provide references and recommend jobs and prospects, etc.
  6. Highlight any upcoming opportunities to mentees

Any additional support (including any financial costs incurred) is given at the discretion of the mentor.

Mentoring is expected to continue for a minimum of six months, providing the recipient keeps up the correspondence, however, AFON would like mentors to support talented individuals for as long as possible, following and influencing the careers of promising individuals.

If you would like to find out more about possibly becoming a mentor, please contact AFON for more info at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, and for both SOC trustees and staff, it means going over and above our minimum legal responsibilities and making sure the culture within the Club is to respect and protect the people that it comes into contact with. Our Safeguarding Policy is available on request from the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

£14 Membership

For juniors, students and unwaged individuals!

Join now


SOC brings together like-minded individuals with a passion for birds, nature and conservation through a programme of talks, outings, conferences and via the Club’s quarterly journal, Scottish Birds.