Share Learn Improve Coordinator, Abi Paine, headed to BBC Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace with a group of young people ready to take on the world!
Young people were at the heart of the action during day one of BBC Countryfile Live last week, as people travelled from all over the country to attend the event. The newly appointed Environment Secretary, Rt Hon Theresa Villiers also used the event as the platform for her first speech in post.
National Trust Director-General, Hilary McGrady opened the National Trust Theatre with a panel debate featuring three young people Arjun Dutta, Dara McAnulty and Bella Lack; discussing environmental issues, ways to act on the crisis and how to reconnect people with nature.
Then in the afternoon, the National Trust hosted a workshop in their Greenhouse Tent; giving young people from across the Our Bright Future projects the opportunity to showcase their policy asks and discuss ideas with other young people.
First up, Daniel (Growing Confidence), Laurence (Growing Confidence) and Khadija (Bright Green Future) put forward the case for ask one – calling for more time spent learning in and about nature. They highlighted some of the statistics around outdoor learning, including that 90% of teachers say that children were more engaged in learning when they spent lessons outdoors. They also shared experiences of taking part in their projects and the positive impacts it has had on them and others.
They kicked off discussions with everyone in the room, posing questions such as: what is needed for it to be practical to spend an hour outdoors learning in senior school? How can teachers increase environmental learning and awareness through the school curriculum?
Next, Jayashree (Student Eats) and Lisa (Environmental Leadership Programme) highlighted ask two – support to get into environmental jobs – calling for a future jobs scheme and ideas around breaking down barriers to access.
They asked the room to discuss the barriers and how we might overcome them, with some of the ideas including:
Work experience is often needed to get into the sector, but that the cost of voluntary placements or work experience and the travel involved is a barrier
Awareness of green job opportunities in the first place; many young people don’t know about the variation of roles within the sector. How can we advertise the diversity of opportunities?
Volunteering events are often on weekdays; could these be arranged on evenings or weekends, so they fit better around education or job commitments?
Could organisations work together to allow young people to rotate around volunteering opportunities?
Next, ask three was introduced by Katy (Bright Green Future), Trixie (Bright Green Future) and Gina (Tomorrow’s Natural Leaders), who shared some of the ways that taking part in their projects have enabled their voices to be heard on issues important to them.
They asked the group to discuss how they could influence people to make practical changes for the environment and make sure young people’s voices are heard. Some of the ideas included:
Give students at school/college/university the opportunity to go into Parliament and meet decision makers and learn about the processes early on
Use the PSHE curriculum to include discussions about nature and wellbeing
Lower the voting age to 16 to ensure MPs hear from younger people about the things that affect them
Finally, Claudia (Environmental Leadership Programme) and Elis (My World My Home) highlighted the ways in which the climate emergency and nature crisis are linked; detailing research on the global temperature rise, mass species loss and CO2 levels. They shared ways in which ordinary people are responding to the crisis and asked the room to think on some key questions such as:
If you had 15 minutes to talk to the new Environment Minister, what ways would you ask her to respond to the climate emergency?
What actions can we take to make this change happen?
What do you think has had the most impact making change so far? E.g. school strikes
Hilary McGrady, Director-General and Patrick Begg, Outdoor and Natural Resources Director, joined the workshops and listened to the discussions and took away meaningful actions on how to continue championing young people across the National Trust.
Well done to all who contributed to the day; it was so inspiring to see young people taking centre stage and sharing their knowledge and ideas with such passion and confidence.
Young people from Youth in Nature and Tomorrow’s Natural Leaders will be attending BBC Countryfile Live (North) at Castle Howard on 15-18 August; so look out for them if you’re there!