My name is Sarah Dorman, I’m 23 years old and I’m involved with the Grassroots Challenge project and Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster in Northern Ireland. In my opinion this is one of the best opportunities you get in life to work in both the environment and agricultural sectors. Who doesn’t love pulling on a pair of wellies and seeing where the adventure takes you?
My journey started with Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster around nine years ago when I first joined Spa Young Farmers. Since joining I have taken on many committee positions within the club and watched it grow from strength to strength. In the summer of 2018, the opportunity arose to join the Grassroots Challenge Youth Forum, while completing the Bronze Eco Club Award. It was an opportunity I couldn’t say no to! The first meeting of the Grassroots Challenge Youth Forum was very informative and interesting. I met all the other members of the Youth Forum and they are a wonderful bunch! Since then I have attended meetings and taken part in many activities, including building barn owl boxes, a mini beast hotel, bird ringing and pond dipping.
For the next adventure, I joined the programme wide Our Bright Future Youth Forum, representing the Grassroots Challenge project. This Youth Forum has representatives from 31 Our Bright Future projects from across Northern Ireland, Scotland England and Wales. On Saturday 2 February my alarm went off at 4am and I headed to the airport. Soon I was Manchester, bound for my first Our Bright Future Youth Forum meet-up. Manchester was rather cold and snowy, but our venue, The Studio was quite the opposite; warm, bright and modern. We were ready for a productive day!
The day got off to a great start with a nature-based activity. Everyone was asked to pick a twig, stone and leaf, pretty random I thought, but we ended up all mingling and making artwork! It was the perfect activity to get us all chatting before the nitty gritty discussions started.
Much of the day was focused on preparing us for the Our Bright Future parliamentary reception next month. There were many discussions from different leaders and inspirational speakers. We learnt what to expect at Parliament, how to be motivational and most importantly to believe in ourselves. Everyone was so energised and fired up to make a difference together. When visiting Parliament, we will be campaigning for at least one hour of outdoor teaching in schools each day, for more opportunities to get environmental jobs and for businesses, charities and the Government to listen to young people more by having young trustees and youth advisory boards.
Throughout the day I sat at a table with other Our Bright Future Youth Forum members from projects in Wales, London and Yorkshire. I found it very interesting hearing about their backgrounds and the projects they are involved in. I also left the meeting with a range of ideas that I could apply to my own project. My favourite part of the day was having the chance to meet new people with a shared interest in the environment. Our Bright Future brings so many different projects together under one umbrella. I loved bumping into another Young Farmers member too!
I have left Our Bright Future Youth Forum meet up with a lot of new ideas, the enthusiasm to keep doing our part for the environment, along with new friendships. I’m already looking forward to campaigning in Parliament next month!
To conclude; I would describe my first Our Bright Future Youth Forum meet-up in three words as inspirational, interesting and motivational.