BTO Youth’s Equipment Donation Scheme reaches 2,300 young people

BTO Youth’s Equipment Donation Scheme reaches 2,300 young people

11 May 2023

Equipment Donation Scheme

In January 2021, BTO Youth proudly launched the Equipment Donation Scheme (EDS), aiming to break down one of the main barriers to birding: the costs of optics and guidebooks.

Letter of thanks written by Devin, age 10, who was able to use equipment donated to his school.

Donors send BTO their pre-loved equipment, which we then distribute to eligible recipients via an online application process.

Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of donors, EDS has now benefited over 2,300 young people across the UK, ranging from individual budding birders (aged 21 and under) to university clubs, societies and teachers that have an environmental focus. 

The scheme wouldn’t be possible without the support and dedication of the EDS panel (BTO Youth Advisory Panel members), who score anonymised applications and select the recipients at a meeting once a month.

These meetings are always a fun process, reviewing applications from aspiring young ornithologists and inspirational teachers from around the UK, in the knowledge that the scheme will support them to develop skills in the field and cultivate an interest in birds and the natural world.

Some EDS recipients have gone on to take part in BTO Youth events, both online (Birding 101 & Nature Natters video events) and in-person (Bird Camp). Most notable perhaps is the special example of an EDS recipient who is now a member of our Youth Advisory Panel (YAP).

We are sometimes fortunate enough to receive feedback from participants, which we will always try to pass on to donors, to show them the positive impact their donation has made.

Aneeshwar, recipient of the Equipment Donation Scheme. 
Thank you so much for donating equipment for Aneeshwar. He really loved them all and he has started to use them for the first time at his favourite place, Bempton Cliffs. He was trying to spot Puffins, other birds and mainly he was able to see the Black-browed Albatross very closely with binoculars. It was a treat to see his joy and enthusiasm towards the birds.  

Who is eligible for EDS?

  • Schools (Years 3–13; applications can be sent in either for year groups or for school clubs that have an environmental focus)
  • University clubs and societies with an environmental focus
  • Individuals between the ages of 11–21, who do not already own binoculars or other equipment requested

The Equipment Donation Scheme runs all year round and is always open for eligible applications. With applications far outweighing donations, we are constantly looking for more equipment to keep EDS running. So if you know anyone who is able or interested in becoming an EDS donor, please ask them to donate!

Thank you very much again for the wonderful package we received from you as part of your equipment donation scheme. Today was the first opportunity we had to do some birdwatching! We took a walk into Magherafelt town looking for Swifts. Thankfully it was a successful venture and using your binoculars, we saw several Swifts soaring through the skies. We are looking forward to more birding activities before the end of term.
Equipment Donation Scheme recipients at St Pius X College, County Londonderry.

Apply or donate to the Equipment Donation Scheme

If you meet our eligibility criteria, you can apply for optical equipment (binoculars and scopes) or bird guides through our online form. If you are under 16, you will need a parent/guardian to fill in the form for you.

Apply to the EDS

We’re always looking for more equipment to donate, to support more young people across the UK. If you are able to donate optics or guides (which can be secondhand), we would be very grateful.

If your equipment is particularly valuable, we may ask your permission to sell it to a trusted reseller, and use this income to buy several pairs of lower-price binoculars. This way, we can help more young people with your donation.

Donate to the EDS

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