The ABA Young Birder of the Year Mentoring Program is designed for youth ages 1018 years while appealing to a broad range of interests and talents. The YBY Mentoring Program is a fun way to engage with some of the most respected birders in North America as they help you hone your skills and expertise.

  • Do you always keep your binoculars handy and daydream about birds when not out birding?
  • Do you enjoy taking detailed field notes on birds, their behaviors, and habitats?
  • Are you inspired to draw, paint, or photograph birds?
  • Do you write poems, essays, and stories about birds?
  • Do you dream of being involved in bird conservation or bird-related community action?

If you enjoy any or all aspects of birding, then the ABA YBY Mentoring Program is for you!

Modules

There are five modules to choose from so you can customize your program experience.

  • TWO MAJOR MODULES: Field Notebook Conservation/Community Leadership
  • THREE SUPPORTING MODULES: Illustration Writing Photography

Full details and submission requirements are listed on the modules page.

Program Requirements

  1. Register by November 30, 2021.
  2. Fieldwork is conducted from July 1, 2021 through March 1, 2022.
    Any and all works submitted for the program must be started and completed between those dates.
  3. ABA Student Membership in good standing through June 30, 2022.
  4. Submitted materials must be uploaded by March 1, 2022.
    Please refer to the submission requirements on the individual module pages. Illustration module only requirement: Materials submitted by mail on or before February 15, 2022.
  5. Age at time of judging March 1, 2022 is 1019 years.
  6. Having a Slack account is a requirement for entering the mentoring program.
    ALL communications and questions will be answered in the ABA’s Slack workspace. Slack is a private workspace messaging app. Details on Slack are included at the bottom of this page.

Achievement and Recognition

Participation in the YBY Mentoring Program is a big accomplishment for all! Submitting a complete entry for one or more modules is an achievement in itself, and the ABA wants to recognize all participants for their success.

Participants may do as many or as few of the modules as they choose. Finalists are selected for each of the five modules in two age categories: 1013 years and 14–18 years. In addition, we will award the title of Young Birder of the Year 2022 in each age division. You do not have to be in the running for the Young Birder of the Year to participate in the program.

To qualify for the overall award of the title Young Birder of the Year:

1. Complete BOTH of the Major Modules:

Field Notebook AND Conservation/Community Leadership

OR

2.  Complete ONE of the Major Modules AND TWO of the Supporting Modules:

Illustration   Writing   Photography

Note about option #2 scoring: Overall score will be 50% of your score on the major module plus 25% of your score on each of the two supporting modules.

We will be awarding a special title of the Young Birder of the Year 2022 in each of the two age divisions. Finalists will be announced during the month of May 2022.

Important Note: Previous Young Birder of the Year finalists may participate in individual modules, but they are NOT eligible to have the title bestowed upon them more than one time in a given age division. It is possible to win the title in the 10–13 Division, and then again in the 1418 Division, provided you meet the age requirements.

SLACK is a requirement for entering the mentoring program as ALL communications and questions will be answered in the ABA’s private Slack workspace.

Slack is a private workspace messaging app. ABA staff and board have adopted Slack as our primary workplace communication tool. Slack workspaces increase communication and collaboration between the YBYMP’s participants, mentors, parents, and organizers.

Don’t worry: parents have their own workspace, which will allow them to get to know each other, brag about their young birder, and/or ask questions privately to the YBYMP organizers. Slack also smooths the way for when you make new birding friends—your parents can communicate with your new friend’s parents to ensure everyone feels safe.

ABA’s Slack workspace contains various channels, which will allow current participants to message each other, the mentors, YBYMP organizers, and previous participants/YBYMP alumni in a safe and protected manner. This is the perfect way to ask questions such as:

  • What is the best way to organize my photos in a Powerpoint?
  • Can someone proofread my essays for the Writing Module?
  • I don’t get what I should include in my Field Notebook—what are you including in yours?
  • I’m going birding in Florida and would like to take pictures somewhere cool. Does anyone have any recommendations on where to go?
  • And any other questions that you may have. Slack is your friend to ask questions and avoid problems.

After you are registered you will be given details on how to access our private YBYMP Slack workspace. Until then, you can email us with any questions at [email protected] or call the ABA-HQ at 1-800-850-BIRD (2473).