Monday, 2 September 2013

Increasing involvement of young birders‏ with local bird clubs

I received an email from a West Midland Bird Club Management Committee member asking for opinions on how the involvement of young members with the Club could be increased. The member is also interested in how bird clubs in general might be able to increase young birders' involvement. All opinions are welcomed, but particularly from birders under the age of 50. Please send responses, either as a comment, tweet or via email, to me by September 9th.

Here's an edited version of the email:


At the last West Midland Bird Club Management Committee meeting there was a fair amount of discussion on how to get a greater degree of involvement from younger members in the running of the Club – an essential as, if there is no succession to the present (largely but fortunately not exclusively) ageing bunch, there won’t be a WMBC in say thirty years’ time.

Only three younger members appear to have had any involvement in recent years in the running of Club matters. One as recorder for two years on a nestbox project, who had to give it up due to work commitments, but has since helped with the forthcoming Annual Report. Another as branch secretary at Stafford, who also has had to stand down (possibly due to pressure of work). The third as branch secretary at Birmingham, who apparently has a busy lifestyle and doesn’t consider they have scope for taking on extra commitments within WMBC.

So is the lack of involvement from younger members due to:

  1. 24/7 work ethic, and working life is simply too busy for members under 40 to take a significant role in the Club’s management.
  2. Perception among the under 40s that WMBC is simply not run in a manner with which they can identify?

If the latter, what aspects of the way the Club operates are felt to be in need of improvement?

Are the branch activities still useful/relevant, and do the branches still serve a useful purpose in communication between the Management Committee and the members? (Indoor meetings have been dropped by Birmingham for lack of support, and the only branch where they get good support is Kidderminster. Stafford have dropped field meetings for lack of support, and the only branch where support is good is Birmingham, for the long-haul trips).

The quality of the website has in recent times become a subject of criticism. We are very conscious of this, and steps are in hand to improve the situation.

I shall be interested to know what you, and near-contemporaries among your birding friends and fellow-members, see as the changes necessary to move the Club forward, make it more easily identifiable for younger members, and encourage them to be more involved in future management. Responses received will be looked at during the next Management Committee meeting, and views will be received with interest and respect.

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