The ethos of the Falconry Youth Exchange Project is to unite falconers and to give young falconers the opportunity to experience different styles of falconry in different countries.
Many young falconers have the motivation, the time, the energy, and above all the passion to dedicate significant amounts of time to their art and they wish to learn different ways of practicing falconry.
Oftentimes, there are two obstacles to this. One obstacle is that they don’t know as many people in other countries, and a further obstacle is a high cost of living in and traveling to other countries that are unknown to them.
Past falconry meets, festivals, and the communities seeded by the online social networks have highlighted that the falconry community is like a global family. These seeds seek to grow, if only we nourish these initial experiences with the opportunities to expand.
In a world, which is often characterized by our differences and the strive that these differences provoke, falconry is in some regards a blissful exception.
Our differences are not so much differences, but rather diversity which is celebrated and encased in the different set of complex skills and knowledge that is passed down from mentor to apprentice, and from parents and grandparents to their children and grandchildren. While some falconry techniques are the same across much of a region or even throughout the world, individual countries or regions have honed unique practices and methods that should be celebrated, and word of which should be spread among the global falconry community to admire how the spark that is our passion has kindled different types of fires. These different traditions and customs are what define all our unique styles of falconry and they should be celebrated simply due to their intrinsic beauty and interesting manifestations as well as to promote best practice.
The purpose of the Falconry Youth Exchange Project is to take advantage of these links and of the curiosity that young falconers have to get to know different types of falconry.
To facilitate this, the IAF Education Working Group has created this website which links young falconers with places (be they individual falconers, breeders, or falconry centers) that can teach different skills and convey interesting and enriching experiences to falconry youths.
The method for achieving this is the launching of the present subsection on the IAF Falconry Education Program website to be called (IAF Falconry Youth Links). This project is run completely by motivated volunteers within the framework of the IAF Falconry Education Program.
This project takes inspiration from the IAF School Links Programme as well as being based on the work and travel concept that has recently been so successful in New Zealand, where young people work as seasonal workers picking kiwis and live in different places for free as well as receiving food for their work. Details of how this could work in the IYEP framework could be agreed upon on a case-by-case basis.
The benefit to the hosting party is that they have an extra set of hands to help with things like cleaning mews, training their raptors, and assisting in anything necessary for the maintenance of said raptors. In this regard, the IYEP is envisioned to be similar to the arrangements frequently made between apprentices and their mentors or falconry centers. Three key differences distinguish the IYEP from this. The primary advantage would be that this allows the youths to experience new falconry skills and traditions and to perhaps fly raptors of a different species, at a different quarry, or in a different style than they had previously experienced. Likewise, hosts may benefit from insights that the youth may be able to give about how things are done differently in other places. Another benefit is that youths and hosts could be encouraged to write a brief report of their time together for other falconers to learn of different falconry skills and cultures. Through this manner, unexpected knowledge transfers may be achieved. Lastly, this project is intended to create a community unity and connections that may last into the future for the youth – who are the next generation of our sport. In modern times, when falconry is beset from many sides and where extreme animal rights groups, overly keen legislators, or pressure groups may seek to limit or even ban falconry in many places, this unity can only benefit our global falconry community.
In short, while there are further benefits and larger ramifications that could be distilled from this, the primary benefit for the youths would be to experience and learn about new falconry techniques and cultures, while the benefit for the host would be to receive help with anything that needs to be done around their facilities.