Volunteering with Benefits

When you volunteer, whether it’s to give of your time, talents, or materials, you walk on with your life journey as a different person. I have been volunteering since high school in different parts of the Balkan region; mostly in humanitarian projects focusing on teaching children and teens.

But then the tables had turned and I signed up to a course to learn about identifying (IDing) birds with AOS -AlbanianOrnithological Society, and to be a student myself. What a change! Bird Watching has been a long wished hobby of mine that I wanted to pursue since I taught an elementary class on Flying Creatures years back.  Sadly though, I never really had a proper chance, so it took this course to actually have my first real birding experience.

“The Squad”

Meeting AOS has taken me through a range of new experiences and locations in Albania.

Firstly, I was inspired by their expert teachers and staff who took turns to teach us in the elements of bird IDing both in the classroom than out on actual field trips. They have provided us with a local bird guide and an online site that had more information than I could ever learn. Both of these seemed daunting at first (and please let me not start on using the Latin names for identification!!) but as the course went on, and I have become better at it, they have become exceptionally useful tools. Hats off to these dedicated professionals who took the time and patiently answered our gazillion questions …

Next what really made an impression on me was the passion and diverse knowledge of my fellow students. The young adults, some still in university or young professionals in various fields of sciences relating to our environment, were full of curiosity and enthusiasm not only to learn but also to share the knowledge with each other. On our day trips, we talked and shared information about everything starting from insectivore plants to protecting turtle hatchlings on the coast, and even about the results of the moratorium on hunting. Boys and girls, young and old working together in harmony, completing each other’s strengths and expertise. Sometimes under the crazy heat on open fields or in the thick of the fog on a serpentine road with pretty much zero visibility. Fun!

                                        

Activities with AOS

After completing the course and passing the online test provided by the Nord University from Sweden, I could hardly wait to be able to volunteer in the latest activities that AOS was organizing.

We took part in the European Bird counting four different Important Bird Areas including Divjaka-Karavasta National Park, Landscape Protected Area of Vjosë-Nartë, Orikumi lagoon and Karaburun peninsula. This big operation included 51 participants from AOS volunteers, students of BirdID 2018 Albania, staff from the Regional Administration for Protected Areas of Fieri, staff from the Regional Administration for Protected Areas of Vlora, representatives of FOSH, members of Naturalist group in Vlora, Hungarian bird banders from MME (Birdlife Hungary) and several of nature lovers

                                                

We ran on the ½ Marathon of Tirana for the cause “One mile for theEgyptianVultureProject”.

                                                                                

We went out monitoring illegal poaching activities at theTerbufi plain and at the ThanasReservoir area.

                                      

 The Take-Away

Being an educator, I have the unique position to direct my students’ attention to important and environmentally crucial subjects both in Albania and around the world. Volunteering at AOS showed me what an incredible tool it is to share my experiences on the field with students, and to incorporate those experiences into many of my classes about the different events and environmental issues that Albania faces. I also love introducing them to the marvels of the flora and fauna that surrounds them! I am committed to continuously use my experiences and knowledge that I have acquired in volunteering with AOS.

I highly recommend to like-minded individuals to sign up for volunteering as soon as they can. You can thank me later.

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