Think Beyond Business as Usual

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By Ellena Jenks

Ellena serving food in an apron
(Ellena Jenks)

As a young person in the current climate, I can only see a future for myself working in environmental protection.

I think that young people today are growing up incredibly conscious of what their future might have in store if action on climate change is not made a priority. Without putting too fine a point on it, I recently read the quote ‘not even the dinosaurs subsidised their own extinction’ (Jo Brand). Although it can be overwhelming to read about this, I find that small steps can keep up positive momentum. Volunteering is fundamental, not only to put good out into the world but to build a community of people who understand. There are so many charities to volunteer with depending on your interests and time commitments. For me, I am not a scientist or scuba diver - and I work full time - but can still volunteer with environmental organisations. This tends to involve content creation, citizen science or project support. For example, I volunteer with the Young People’s Trust for the Environment, am a member of the Marine Conservation Society’s Youth Ocean Network, and also manage my own social media account to casually share my passion for the ocean (@Elleoctopus). In 2022 I volunteered with the North Berwick Lobster Hatchery for 2 weeks and spent most of the time covered in sea water and lobster poop, with a massive grin on my face! Working with brilliant people to increase lobster populations right there in the Firth of Forth was amazing. It felt like getting to the heart of something and being part of the solution. So, think about where your skills, opportunities and interests overlap, then start exploring that space.

So, what’s stopping you? As a young person, it can feel as though we do not have enough experience or knowledge to bring our ideas forward. There are barriers like time pressures, travel abilities, finances and experience-based knowledge we are yet to learn. The job market is so competitive that jobs that are ‘entry level’ will hire candidates who have been working in the field for years. But young people have a unique selling point, a secret superpower, and that is our ability to ask questions with a fresh perspective. I think organisations can support this by listening to young people and considering their fresh ideas. Reaching beyond the risk assessments and red tape to ask ‘why not?’ organisations can lend credibility to young people and give them the foundation to launch campaigns. We must be spontaneous and think outside the box; climate change is not restricted to the hours of nine to five and it is no longer business as usual.

Find out more about the Young People’s Trust for the Environment at

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Posted On: 20/05/2024

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