Thoughts about a new Birds and wildlife group for Hayling U3A

This is the text of an email sent to everyone who expressed an interest in a new Birds and wildlife group. If you're interested in the group, please click here and let us know.

I'm writing to you as one of the 15 members who have expressed an interest in a new Birds and wildlife group (which includes me). I apologise if that's not right, please let me know and I'll remove your name from the list.

Ken Osborne (our groups coordinator) and I will hold a meeting for people interested in the group after the next monthly meeting on Thursday, 17th November. So please put the date in your diary if it isn't there already and let me know if you can't make it.

Before then, however, we would like to explore what type of group you want to create. As I see it there are two possibilities:

  1. A regular, monthly meeting
  2. A visits group

We can create either or both. The following sections set out my thoughts about each type of group and the final section lists some questions I'd like you to consider.

A regular, monthly meeting

This would have a similar format to many of our other groups.

Someone would have to lead the group; they would need to:

  • Pick a day in the month, and time
  • Identify a location if not the leader's home
  • Organise a presentation for the first meeting
  • Use the first meeting to sketch out a programme for following meetings

That shouldn't be an onerous task and there's help available. For example, I'd be happy to help with the web site entries.

To be successful, a monthly meeting would need members to volunteer to research and present on subjects of interest to the group. It is unrealistic to expect the same person to present at every meeting.

We'll have to restrict membership numbers - or create multiple groups - if meetings are to take place in members' homes.

A visits group

For example, bird watching on the Kench, orchid-spotting on the common, a fungus walk, or a visit to a wildlife museum.

We could try to organise visits on the same day of each month, but:

  • Some visits might be impractical on the given day, others would be dependent on other factors such as the weather or tide
  • It might be hard to drum up interest in the Winter months
  • We might want more frequent outings in other months

I'm prepared to lead such a group and to use the web site and email to help us communicate within the group and organise visits. To be successful, we'd need:

  • People with enough expertise to help us find the best times and locations for a visit, and help us understand what we are looking at!
  • Maybe some equipment (binoculars, spotter scopes, etc) although I suspect we'd have quite a bit we could share within the group
  • Car sharing if transport is an issue for some and, in any case, to save money

Such a group could be open to all members, like the Walking and Cycling groups.

Some questions for you:

Can you see a better way to organise a Birds and wildlife group? I've checked with the U3A Trust web site and - surprisingly - there's no advice available in this area. The above is just my initial thoughts please let me have your own.

Regular, monthly meeting:

  • Are you interested in attending a monthly meeting?
  • Would you be prepared to lead the monthly meeting? become a joint leader with someone else?
  • Would you be prepared to research topics of interest to a monthly meeting and present what you find to the rest of the group?

Visits:

  • Are you interested in a visits group?
  • Do you have any ideas to contribute - especially if they are better than mine?
  • Do you have some expertise to contribute that you haven't mentioned already?

Both Ken and I will get your replies to this note.

I hope to see you at the monthly meeting,

Andy Henderson