The American Birding Association's "Young Birder of the Year" competition was one of the most fun and challenging competitions that I have found. The competition is made up of several modules (writing, photography, illustration, and field notebook) which each contestant works on over the summer and then the best work is collected and sent in for judging.
I found the competition to be a great incentive to work on my sketching skills and also provided an additional reason to get out in the field and go birdwatching! My bird identification skills improved dramatically over the years that I participated in the competition.
I placed in the Illustration modules several years and the prizes consist of a variety of books and other birding materials and I found many of these to be extremely helpful in improving my skills and knowledge as a birder.

In 2005, I placed first overall and was named the 2005 Young Birder of the Year.

For more information about the Young Birder of the Year competition, visit