Posts in Education
Youth exchange in Chorokhi delta

Final exposure event of the Youth exchange, protecting the Chorokhi delta. There will be an exhibition on the delta and its importance for birds. Georgian, Armenian and Belgian youngsters are working together on bird paintings, info panels, a documentary, birdwatching map and much more.

Everyone welcome to see for themselves, saturday 17/09/2016 at 2pm at the entrance arch of the Chorokhi delta (Akhalsopheli, close to the petrol station)!

Thanks to all who have contributed to make this exchange to a success. Thank you partner DRONI (Georgia), Young Biologist association (Armenia) and Jeugdbond voor Natuur en Milieu (Belgium). And thanks to Erasmus+ YIA and OSME for the generous support.


Erasmus+ youth exchange in Batumi, Georgia

This is a Erasmus+ Youth in Action Project, funded by the European Commission, and in cooperation with JNM (Belgium) and YBA (Armenia)

Batumi Raptor Count is hosting a youth exchange in 2016 and we want you to be part of it!
Are you Georgian with an interest in birds and nature conservation, and you are between 18 and 30 years old, read on an APPLY HERE!

During a BRC youth camp you will enjoy countless hours in the field with young biologists and environmentalists from across the world in a nice group of young people from your (neighboring) country. We invite you to learn more about the birds and animals that live in the Caucasus together with us, to discover what  kinds of problems they face and what we can do to give them a better future! We welcome all Georgian youngsters to apply!

When? 5 – 18 September 2016 (excluding travel days)

Who? This camp is open to Georgian, Armenian and Belgian applicants of 18-30 years of age. We will accept a total of 20 youngsters, 8 of each country.

What?  Be aware because this unique exchange will take you to Batumi on the Black Sea coast of Georgia. Above the subtropical hills surrounding Batumi a yearly returning spectacle of nature takes place: every autumn hundred thousands Birds of prey migrate over Batumi.

Together with like minded youngsters from Belgium, Georgia and Armenia, we will indulge ourselves during this intensive camp into the raptor migration spectacle, and strive for the protection of birds. One key area we will focus on is the Chorokhi delta on the Black Sea, a river mouth wetland complex important as a stopover-site for birds, that is threatened by several different development plans and by hunting. Through different trajectories (eg. a documentary, a hiking map of the delta, constructing birdwatchinghides…) we will showcase the importance of the delta.

Apart from nature protection and birding, cultural exchange and discovery of the region are central. Together with our Belgian, Georgian and Armenian comrades we will join the activities of BRC (raptor counting, bird ringing), well do sport- and cooking contests and we’ll go for a hike through the Georgian wilderness. We interact with the local community and try to discover the different perspectives on hunting and raptors. It’s crucial to be open for different opinions: the goal is to understand, not to judge.

This youth exchange is not a traditional holiday. There’s more initiative expected from you, but you’ll get a great experience in return!

Are you keen to join? Georgian candidates (between 18 and 30 yrs old) can subscribe by sending in your motivation using this form!

* There is room for 9 Georgians. Good knowledge of English is required. Participants with experience in birding or environmental awareness are favorite, experience with bird ringing or filming experience will be prioritized.

** This youth exchange is free of charge. All costs are paid, for accommodation, excursions and transport.

The Belgian National Agency for Youth in Action, JINT, kindly funded this project.

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Practical organization

All participants will be hosted in guest houses of local families who are working closely with the BRC in the village of Sakhalvasho in the Kobuleti district, near Batumi Georgia. We will spend some nights in Gonio as well, and in Mtirala national park. You will live together with other participants and we will have group dinners and evening activities, also with the many international volunteers that are counting birds with BRC, either in the village or out in Batumi city. All accommodation, food and local transportation will be arranged for you. There will be plenty of occasions during which you have the time to buy personal goods, a souvenir for back home or simply to enjoy the city.

Very good practical information about how to reach our project is available here.

The group of Belgian youngsters will travel for more than 80h with public transport through Eastern Europe and Turkey until Batumi! They choose not to travel by plane to reduce the impact of their journey on the environment.

Financial arrangements

BRC covers all costs for accommodation and food for all participants during their stay. Students are expected to book their own transportation to travel to and from Batumi. 100% of your transportation costs will be reimbursed at the end of exchange in Batumi.

We ask all participants to travel via train or bus as the cheapest and least polluting forms of transportation. This also applies for Belgian participants.

All applications must be submitted via the online application form. If you have problems using the form please contact us at contact@batumiraptorcount.org.

With more than 70 students joining in youth projects at Batumi over the past 5 years, BRC has all the experience you want to give you an unforgettable experience with the millions of birds traveling by the Black Sea coast! We offer you a varied and exciting program with a lot of fun outdoor activities and a great intercultural experience with young people from all over the Caucasus and the rest of the world.
We hope to see very many of you enjoying the beautiful nature and epic bird migration of Batumi together with us very soon!

Education, EventsJohannes Jansen
Exciting Environmental Education Exchange

2013 was already the 3rd Autumn in which BRC organized an "Environmental Education Exchange" for students from Georgia, Armenia and Turkey. The exchange is supported by the Acopian Center for the Environment (AUA, Yerevan) and the Educational Development Center of Batumi (EDC, USAID). Participants join us for 10 days to learn about raptors, their migration and the conservation work of BRC, but most importantly to train their skills in environmental education work!

The main challenge during the exchange is for participants to develop their own lesson about birds or nature for high school children from the Batumi area. That sounds easy enough at first, but as our participants quickly find out, it is quite the challenge to give an exciting class in front of very young, curious school students….who can ask any unexpected questions at any time. Even our camp coordinator had to do some research when one pupil from a Batumi school asked “Why is the down of Sparrowhawk nestlings white?”. 

So ... how did we get there? This autumn we had a diverse group with 5 students from Georgia, 4 people from Armenia and a single Turkish participant. The exchange started with introductory lectures about raptors, migration and conservation. To test their knowledge in the field, students visited the BRC watch-sites and held field trips in the surrounding area.

In the second phase of the camp our participants got to put their skills to work by developing some lessons in small teams. The guys split up in three teams, each presented their own idea about what they wanted to teach at local schools and got to work on preparing their lessons. A first team made a lesson about the wetlands in Kolkheti National Park and, in particular, about the importance of the Chorokhi delta for migrating birds.

Our second team took to the schools with a lesson on biodiversity and raptors as top predators. And finally, our third team prepared a nice presentation about the life cycle of the Eurasian Sparrowhawk: the most popular raptor species in Batumi.

With these lessons we visited 9 classes in 4 schools of which the youngest kids were in 4th grade and the eldest in 8th grade. One additional special lesson for high school students of hosted by EDC.

Next to preparing and conducting their lessons for school groups our participants also developed a plan around environmental education for Chorokhi delta. Two very nice concepts were develop and the teams are still working on these at home and hope to be able to realize their concept with BRC in coming years.

Needless to say also this exchange did not go by without the necessary cultural evenings, a nocturnal swim in the Black Sea and a fantastic introduction to traditional Georgian songs and hospitality.

We thank all the participants for making this exchange so successful as they did!

Unforgettable Birds and Biodiversity Camp

On Sept 11th we said goodbye to over 20 great young students from the Caucasus who participated in our 2013 Birds and Biodiversity Camp. The camp was developed together with regional and European partners with support of the Youth in Action program of the EU Commission and aimed to bring together people from different cultural backgrounds at the Batumi migration bottleneck in order to learn about nature conservation. After 15 days living and working together in the BRC hometown of Sakhalvasho this group had become very close and it was a sad goodbye for everyone. However, we look forward to the contributions these guys will be making to conservation in Batumi and elsewhere after this inspiring camp clearly got this group hungry for more!

The camp started with a thorough exploration of the bird migration and biodiversity of the Batumi region. We visited important natural areas such as the Chorokhi river delta south of Batumi, Mtirala National Park and of course the BRC migration watch-points. We also maintained regular presentations and group discussions in order to philosophize about the diversity of environmental problems and about the potential of community-based nature conservation for alleviating some of such environmental issues.

The work of BRC to minimize shooting of birds of prey in Georgia was used as a case-study of a science-based and integrative conservation approach working for the benefit of both the environment and people.

Throughout the camp there was a big emphasis on team building across national borders. We were lucky to have a very diverse group of people who quickly opened up to each other, quickly becoming friends as the camp progressed. For several participants this camp has been their first chance to travel abroad, or to meet with people from neighbouring or far-away countries. All had a good knowledge of tradition and history in their own countries and we spent many wonderful nights chanting traditional folk songs and sharing traditional toasts among us … A great atmosphere in which a strong team spirit could develop.

The open attitude of the participants was particularly helpful in the second stage of the camp when everyone worked in smaller teams to  put their gained knowledge in to practice during the so-called mini-projects. The diverse backgrounds of the participants meant we got a very diverse range of projects across four teams. One team constructed an interesting questionnaire to study hunting culture in the Batumi area and conducted at least 50 interviews of which 30 with active hunters. A second group conducted a social study into the knowledge about birds and bird watching among Georgian people through interviews and an online questionnaire. They then continued to develop a range of interesting ideas and plans to popularize  bird watching and to increase regional awareness about birds, especially among their peers.

A third group consisted of people with a background in journalism and design who produced some great movies and articles about bird migration and the BRC project . With some follow-up collaboration now after the camp we will be able to share these materials also with you and our Georgian audience. Finally, one team developed a plan for constructing a long-term bird ringing survey in Georgia and designed a draft for a brochure with which to increase awareness about bird ringing among regional people, and especially hunters.

Each group finally presented their achievements for a large audience of their fellow camp participants and international volunteers working at BRC. Each group managed to frame the relevance of their work in a broader context of nature conservation and it was great to see the dedication and enthusiasm of everyone come together in some great presentations. The projects were also well received by our international volunteers and festival visitors.

We are particularly happy that several motivated Georgian participants are likely to continue working with regional youth together with the BRC. Several participants from neighboring countries were also inspired to take a new step in their education or careers back home, or to develop new collaborative youth exchanges with BRC in future years.

In conclusion we look back to an awesome camp with great gratitude for the high motivation and interest of all the participants. The BRC is more motivated than ever in its engagement to inspire and support the new generation of conservationists in Georgia and wider Caucasus region.


The Birds and Biodiversity Camp was organized in collaboration with young and dedicated nature enthusiasts from JNM (Belgium), Young Biologists Association (Armenia), AYDC (Nagorno Karabakh), and Kuzeydoga (Turkey) and with logistic support of the Acopian Center for the Environment of the American University of Armenia.

Sponsors of the Birds and Biodiversity Camp 2013 include the EU Youth in Action Programme and the Rufford Small Grants Foundation. Opticron Ltd. kindly provides optic materials for our young participants.

EducationWouter Vansteelant