The chances are, if you are a fellow feathered fanatic, spare time birdwatcher or dedicated naturalist and regularly frequent social media you will have a heard of Next Generation Birders or "NGB" as it so often referred. Formed in 2012 with the aim of promoting birdwatching among a younger generation NGB has carved out a name for itself; providing a safe, secure and above all else enjoyable place for young birdwatchers to social and revel in their chosen hobby. NGB has gone from strength to strength in recent years, securing partnerships with conservation organisations, attending international events and most recently raising a substantial amount of money to halt the slaughter of migratory birds in Cyprus. The later just the latest addition to a growing list of remarkable achievements ascertained by members and I for one am extremely proud of each and every one of those involved. Above all else however NGB has helped bring a voice to young birdwatchers across Britain, boosting their confidence and allowing them to hone their skills absent the stigma so often attached to young naturalists. The NGB concept truly is a great one and is something I feel incredibly passionate about having trundled through high school with next to no like minded friends. Since joining Next Generation Birders I feel truly liberated, free to discuss my chosen hobby without being scoffed at and dismissed as "weird".Truly in the two years I have been a member I have not looked back once and although I am relatively new to the group I have seen some truly fantastic things and met some truly fantastic individuals, young people with an undying passion for the natural world, many of whom I can now proudly call my friends. Learning from some of the best young birders Britain has to offer my ID skills have improved ten fold since my time in the group. I am incredibly grateful to the various individuals who have managed the organisation over the years and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I predict extremely positive things to come in the days, months and years ahead.
At present Next Generation Birders is undergoing a restructure aimed at bettering the group for current and future members alike. With this in mind I thought I would put together a blog post showcasing some "NGB success stories", pointing out just what can happen when a group of like minded youngsters get together a create something truly wonderful. Below I have included a number of testimonials from people like myself who have found enjoyment, knowledge and comfort from their time in NGB. If anything I hope this post serves to drum up support for the network, highlighting that NGB is not entirely about twitchers, lengthy lists or half dead American rarities. All of these things of course play an important part within the network but in reality NGB is about young people. Passionate, dedicated, knowledgeable young people and I sincerely hope anyone under the age of 25 with an interest in birds will consider joining the NGB community. If you need any more convincing, just read on..
"Despite being a relatively new member of NGB, the group has given me the confidence to talk openly about my hobby with friends outside of the birding community, and it has strengthened my desire to pursue a wildlife-related career. The knowledge I have gained from the group has improved my understanding of the birding world, and especially British birding. I have also made some great friends, and I look forward to making many more!" - Sorrel Lyall, 16
"NGB provided me with the foundations to run a birding trip to Spain in April 2015. The great birds and scenery were a given but meeting and making some great new friends was the highlight of the trip. With a wide range of interests from birds of prey, reptiles, insects, migration, passerines, photography and artwork I feel everyone learned something during the week. The positive attitude and willingness to make the trip as rewarding as possible was evident from the first moment and 2 members especially showed great selflessness so that everyone else could enjoy the rest of the week, I am forever in debt to them. In all the times I’ve visited Spain in the last 5 years I can honestly say the trip with members of NGB was the most enjoyable and educational I’ve undertaken. I look forward to taking them and others back someday soon." - Oliver Reville, 26.
"I’m a more recent member of NGB but have greatly enjoyed being a part of a community of young birders. It’s been great getting to know other people of a similar age and also going on trips and meeting people. The quizzes have helped with ID, as well as mixing with more experienced birders. Though birding on my patch is great, spending some time with other like minded young birders is great too" - Amy Robjohns, 21
"NGB has provided me with a lot of great opportunities. I've made so many great friends and the group has given me confidence to talk more openly about my love for birds and allowing me to socialize more with like minded individuals. The group means a great deal to me and has brought individual birders together, allowing people to share their knowledge with one another and greatly improve their skills" - Dan Rouse, 19
"When I was a 15 year old wandering the valleys of East Sussex, Birding was rapidly losing interest for me. I still loved nature, but I just wasn't as keen on going out as often as I had done previously, partly through normal teenage angst, and partly because my favourite hobby lacked any real social aspect. If it wasn't for NGB, I'd probably only take my binoculars out for the odd country walk nowadays, I'd probably still be confusing the calls of Linnets and Greenfinches, and I'd most definitely have found far less fulfillment in birding. Man can't live on birds alone, try as we may, and finding brilliant people who shared this passion, so many of whom have become great friends I hope I'll keep for life, undoubtedly cemented my passion for the natural world as one of the most important things in my life" - Liam Curson, 19