Volunteer story – Nika Budagashvili
I was lucky when I found a volunteering opportunity that was similar to the jobs I was doing in Georgia, my home country, and was something I want to do in my life – bird conservation.
For me, the most important goal was to gain and deepen my experience in animal conservation so I could be able to do something useful for my home country’s local flora and fauna. I would say that I positively contributed to the “Island Birds” project through my volunteering service, at the very least to the project’s efforts on target birds. The breeding success of Yelkouan shearwaters (Puffinus yelkouan) on Lastovo Islands improved for at least 100% compared to previous years because we rid many nesting islands of invasive species, which meant the birds were safer. I also spent some time on the island Cres helping griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus), taking care of those who fell in the water during their first flights. Hopefully, they will be back in the wild next year after their rehabilitation. As I’m building my career, I will try to use my experience and newly gained skills to help more birds survive.
Participating in the “Island Birds” project provided me with many useful skills. I am more confident in myself and in abilities. I am more open and can speak more freely in front of people. I did several educational activities, such as knowledge pots about bird ringing and bird migration, and I lead a birdwatching tour in Maksimir park in Zagreb. It was a pleasure to talk with people about the topics I’m interested in. I held an online presentation for young Georgian falconers about volunteering in Croatia and saving birds. I saw they respected me, and I hope I will encourage them to help nature and think in a more nature-oriented way.
Talking in detail about other positive things about volunteering abroad would take a long time. Many useful skills come on their own when you live abroad, far from your friends and family, surrounded by new people and a new environment.