International Youth Day – Young People in Conservation
This post is greater than 6 months old - links may be broken or out of date. Proceed with caution!
By Emily Seccombe
Today, environmental issues attracts more youth activism than perhaps any other topic. Youth activism is incredibly important in raising awareness and setting agendas , as Greta Thunberg has shown. I’m thankful for the youth-focussed conservation organisations in the UK that I’ve been able to get involved with, as part of my own journey in conservation. As it’s International Youth Day, this piece highlights some of the fantastic nature-based projects and organisations that are youth-led or youth-focussed. If you’re a young person wanting to get involved, please do check these organisations out. If you already work in the conservation sector and want to support young people to give them a greater agency in the sector, perhaps get in touch with some of the organisations below to see how to work together to build a more ambitious, inclusive sector. Check out the links at the end of the article for more information.
Over the last year, I’ve been contributing to UK Youth for Nature (UKY4N), the UK branch of the global ‘Youth for Our Planet’ movement. UKY4N is the youth movement calling on the governments of the UK to act on the nature crisis. We’re currently developing a campaign focussed on improving access to natural spaces – the inequality of which has been further highlighted by the recent lockdown. We’ve also been running a social media campaign to highlight the species that are declining in the UK and to call on politicians to act. We’re always looking for more young people to get involved, and are very keen to partner with larger organisations – please do get in touch if this sounds interesting!
Another youth-led organisation I’m involved in is A Focus on Nature, which aims to connect, support and inspire young people with a passion for nature and conservation. I run the mentoring scheme, in which 18-30 year olds can apply for mentorship from one of our panel of experienced professionals from across the nature sector. The scheme aims to tackle the lack of clear career paths, promote transition of skills and knowledge, and most importantly provide support to young people regardless of income, background or education. It’s completely free, thanks to the voluntary work of the mentors. It’s been a privilege to get to know some of the fantastic mentors over the scheme, including writers, rangers and policy advisors, and to support young people who are trying to get into the conservation sector. See how you can get involved on our mentoring webpage.
Unfortunately, some youth-targeted schemes still have serious barriers to involvement, such as unpaid full-time internships or the requirement to have your own transport, which need addressing to improve equal access. However, there are many other great initiatives working on improving access and diversity within the environmental sector. Those I’ve come across include the London Wildlife Trusts’ ‘Keeping it Wild’ project which empowers 11-25 year olds from under-represented backgrounds. There’s also Black2Nature, which is focussed on increasing equal access, particularly for Visible Minority Ethnic communities. Another group making an impact is Action for Conservation, whose workshops and school visits inspire young people to get involved.
I’m sure there are many other fantastic programmes going on that I’m yet to come across – if you want to highlight your youth-led or youth-focussed project, please do share it in the A Focus on Nature Facebook page.
A Focus on Nature https://www.afocusonnature.org/
A Focus on Nature Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/147736862055002/
Keeping it Wild: https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/keeping-it-wild
Action for Conservation: https://www.actionforconservation.org/
More from UK Youth for Nature