The SOC and Isle of May Bird Observatory’s (IoMBO) pioneering ‘Young Birders’ Training Course’, which funds naturalists aged 16-25 years to spend a week learning essential bird survey skills and techniques, has been shortlisted for a prestigious Nature of Scotland Award.
The project was shortlisted in the SNH Youth and Education category of the Awards which celebrate the businesses, charities, public sector and individuals working towards preserving Scotland’s unique wildlife and natural environment.
This year the Awards, which are run by RSPB Scotland and co-sponsored by Scottish Natural Heritage, attracted a record breaking number of applications across the board with the shortlist of entries revealed at a reception in the Scottish Parliament, hosted by Claudia Beamish MSP, on 12 September.
The Club and Observatory’s entry, the Young Birders’ Training Course, provides a unique opportunity annually for three females and three males to spend a week at the Observatory learning first-hand, a wide range of skills and techniques. Outwith the scope of most university/college curricula, these skills are essential attributes for those embarking on a career or role in wildlife recording/conservation.
“I am delighted that the Club has been shortlisted for this award. The course has been running for five years and has provided a very valuable opportunity for the participants to learn about many aspects of bird identification, ringing and to see at first hand, the management of a reserve. It demonstrates the value of working in partnership with the Observatory with additional input from SNH and CEH. None of this would happen without the involvement of those volunteers who are delighted to spend a week on the island, giving the participants the benefit of their knowledge and enthusiasm”, James Main, SOC President
Lucy McRobert, Communications Manager, The Wildlife Trusts and ex Creative Director, A Focus On Nature, went on to say:
"Opportunities for young people to connect with, understand and immerse themselves in the natural world have diminished over the past century, however the SOC and IoMBO has bucked the trend and is offering a high-quality, fun and popular opportunity for young people to learn new skills, make new friends and make the most of inter-generational mentoring relationships. These are the scientists, nature-lovers, conservationists and birders of the future, and the SOC and Isle of May Bird Observatory are setting a high bar for other organisations around the country to now replicate what they've achieved - and in just a few short years”,
Working in partnership, SOC and IoMBO draw upon the talents of highly experienced bird ringers, researchers and surveyors and ensure that participants receive first class expert tuition in an unrivalled and unique setting. With additional teaching and support provided by Scottish Natural Heritage and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology staff, YBTC also provides a network of contacts to assist participants on their journey.
“The Isle of May Bird Observatory is delighted that the YBTC has been recognised for making an important contribution in the career development of future wildlife monitors/recorders and conservationists, and in the subsequent encouragement to other organisations to do likewise. I offer thanks and congratulations to the course leaders and to the members of SNH and CEH who have made a major contribution to the success of the course on the island,” Ian Darling, IoMBO Trust Chairman.
So far thirty young birdwatchers have taken part in the course which is funded by the SOC thanks to generous past members and supporters who have left legacies to the Club.
“Investing in a future generation of conservationists, bird recorders and surveyors is, in my opinion, an excellent use of the Club’s funds. Not only are we helping equip these young people with the skills which will help stand them apart in an employment setting, we’re working to address the seemingly widening gap between today’s young people and nature. One of the greatest legacies of the course has been the stimulation of related-organisations to introduce and establish similar initiatives”, Jane Cleaver, SOC Development Officer.
The winners in each award category will be announced at a black-tie Presentation Dinner taking place at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh on 22 November 2018. The awards will be hosted by TV presenter, writer and naturalist, Kate Humble, and BBC TV and radio presenter, Euan McIlwraith.