Thursday, 15 November 2018

Post 494 - Brilliant BTO's Agenda for Change

Two new faces -
Baroness Young of Old Scone &
Kabir Kaul
Hey everyone.

Well yesterday I wrote about Inspirational #IWill and what a great day I'd had. Well my day didn't end when the event at Kew did. I have #IWill to thank in a way for making it possible for me to attend a second event in the evening...

A little while back Dad and I got an invitation to attend an event with the BTO at the House of Lords! Amazing right, but in London on a school night evening.Would we be able to get down? Would I get permission to be out of school early? But then the penny dropped. "What date was that?" said Mum, "The 13th? Well you're in London anyway!" Brilliant! Solved all the problems thanks to #Iwill. So we gladly accepted the invitations and waited for the big day. 

Great to catch up with Natalie Bennett -
thanks for all your support on twitter
Earlier this year I got to go to Portcullis House, a part of Parliament, but I'd never so far got to go into either of the Houses of Parliament so this was exciting. But so was the event. The BTO are an organisation that our family has been a member of for a number of years. I've got involved with a few of their surveys and of course got to go to one of their brilliant bird camps for young people. If you are a young birder I'd highly recommend getting along to one. Sponsored by the Cameron Bespolka Trust they give you lots of great experiences in a full-on birding weekend and you meet a lot of young birders too.

The event on Tuesday though was about change. It started with security checks of course before getting to the venue and a bit of networking and catching up with lots of familiar friendly faces from the birding world and meeting up with a few new ones too. Of course we had to stop for a while to hear the speakers and the reason for us being there.

Some great speakers with great messages including
Caroline Lucas
There are regular headlines about how the natural world is struggling, really quite scary headlines. Baroness Young of Old Scone kicked off the evening highlighting this but also how the scale of the problems wouldn't be known nor would the effects of conservationist's actions be capable of being tracked without the work of organisations like the BTO. Lots of volunteers (60,000 in fact) like me and others there contribute to their scientific work that makes a real difference. The problem though is that while they engage with lots of people, and have collected really useful data over a long time, people and politicians don't always realise how valuable this data is. The second speaker Caroline Lucas underlined that and like she does on many important green issues is supporting the BTO and trying to raise awareness of the importance of this work continuing.

Great to catch up with other young birders,
Andy & the Bespolkas
The final words of the night were by another great speaker, Andy Clements, the BTO Chief Executive. He covered 10 key actions that make up the BTO Agenda for Change. I'm sure they'll be up on their website soon but they are basically a commitment to keeping on doing what they do well and to do some things they don't do quite as well, better. I think this will be a challenge. They are an amazing organisation, very supportive, very well respected and to set themselves the challenge of being better I think is a tough one.

One of the 10 actions though I will write out as it was very relevant to the day and to my passions :-

"We will become much more accessible and relevant to wider society, inspiring a new generation to participate in the understanding of, and engagement with, the natural world."

If you think of any way I can help with that #IWill.

Thank you so much for the invite Baroness Young of Old Scone, I had a great evening.

Hope you enjoyed.


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Post 493 - Inspirational #IWill

Hey everyone,
Venue for our event - Kew's Nash Conservatory

Yesterday I had the privilege to be in London at Kew Gardens. I love Kew and have visited it several times before, but this time it was for a special event.

Those of you that know me and follow my blog will know that I have a passion for nature and that I try to spread the word and encourage other young people to appreciate and care for it too. I didn't really think of it this way but a lot of what I do is social action, doing something to help make a difference, to improve society in some way, without seeking anything in return.

Well that is just what a group called Step up to Serve are interested in and they run a campaign called #IWill which is all about encouraging social action in young people. After an article in New Nature on the theme of "I can't vote but I can make a difference" the #IWill team told me about the 2018 Ambassador programme which this year is themed around environmental action. It sounded like a brilliant programme with lots of opportunities so of course I had to apply but didn't expect I'd be chosen as it was bound to be popular.

A few of us already involved with environmental social
action got to meet and have a photo with Lord Gardiner
of Kimble
Despite my pessimism I did get selected! And better still, the #IWill event to tell the new ambassadors the news was to be held at Kew Gardens. To say I was pleased, excited, over the moon, chuffed - what ever the words you use it would probably still be an understatement.

We made social action pledges on a pledge tree
I'd read up about the campaign and the previous ambassadors but didn't really know what to expect from the day. Dad came with me and we turned up at Kew just as it was starting to get busy. The event was in a lovely building, the Nash Conservatory. I'd taken my camera of course to record the day, and I was able to put it to good use. In fact as the official photographer was late I had a little job to do to try and capture a few informal shots of the event.

We had workshops to help us Raise our Voice -
here I worked with Princess & Yetunde
There were 50 ambassadors and the day was all about celebrating the things we had done, showing how important social action is and helping us to think about how we can build on what we've done and be role models to encourage more young people to get involved. There were some amazing speakers. The day was hosted by former #IWill  Ambassadors Ceylon Hickman and Tom McEachan and we had some fantastic speakers mixed in with workshops and discussions all designed to help us to promote social action and help inspire others.
I got to work with lots of passionate young people
- here's Shahid 

I really enjoyed learning about Kew's @GrowWildUk project from Tim Owen, I hope I'll be able to get more involved with this and the things they are trying to achieve. There was an awesome talk by Antony Bennett talking us through his journey. It could have been really sad, he'd had a really tough time with his health when he was young but the story was focused on how he viewed the world differently after his problems and how he started saying yes to opportunities and how from that great things have happened. He has been engaged in some great social action work and helped raised lots of funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital who cared for him when he was really, really ill.

There were a few familiar faces - but being behind the camera I
missed my chance to say hi to Rob McFarlane!
Workshops, networking and discussions filled the rest of the day. Through it I got to meet, talk with and start friendships with a really great bunch of passionate people. The range of things young people are doing is incredible and it just goes to show that as I said at the beginning you don't need a vote to be able to make a difference! It was great to meet up with someone I know as well, I was glad to hear Dara McAnulty was a fellow #IWill ambassador. Great to catch up with him and hear him recite a social action poem he'd written, such an incredible talent with words!

I hope I'm well on the way with this now.
This is a shot from my workshop which was about "Raising Your Voice" and I had some actions to follow up on. Well, I hope this blog contributes to the first one! The second one, well I had my camera in hand through the day and I hope some of the images here you'll be seeing a lot more of. Of course I'll be doing more on these points but the third point I'll have to work on with a few organisations I know, but if any of you reading this want to help out and enable a twitter take over based on youth social action please let me know.

All in all what an incredible day. Such a positive, inspiring group of people. I am very proud to be an #IWill Ambassador and look forward to #AYearofGreenAction - #IWill4Nature!!

Look out for more on this through 2019. I think it's going to be a really interesting year!

Hope you enjoyed,


Saturday, 10 November 2018

Post 492 - EcoExplorers, Project Wild and Haggewoods - Thank you!

Hey everyone, an overdue post today to update on a project that I got involved with this year. I thought that I had written an update on this before and I really should have done as this has been a great project and the people involved have been really supportive so I wanted to say a big thank you to all the people involved.

Back in Post 477 - A Happy Return to Haggewoods I covered how an article I wrote gave Rosalind at Haggewoods Trust an idea and how a group of us shaped up a project idea. Well through hard work by Nick at Project Wild CIC and Rosalind at Haggewoods the project was made a reality by getting some funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

So through this year the EcoExplorers project has been busy engaging lots of young people with nature. They've done lots of talks and workshops in schools and at the Haggewoods Meadow. If you've seen my blogs before you'll know it's one of my big passions trying to encourage other young people to care for nature the way I do so I was really pleased to have been a small part of making the project happen.

Talking Dragonflies
(I am short but here I'm stood in a ditch - really!)
I was able to help out at one of the sessions for a group of primary school kids and I really enjoyed it. The young people really enjoyed the day and were amazed at the wildlife they saw. Lots of questions were asked and lots was learnt. I was able to share with the group a lot of information about dragonflies and my experience at Haggewoods of watching the adults emerging from the nymphs as I was lucky enough on a visit here to spend ages watching this almost magical transformation. I was also privileged to be able to handle a really calm and incredibly gorgeous grass snake. I've mostly only ever caught glimpses of these incredible creatures before as they slither off into the undergrowth. It's hard to explain well but it really seemed everybody got a lot out of the day, the adults helpers as well as the young people that came along.

An amazing creature!
I didn't get to go along but there was also a weekend dedicated to film making, it was a shame to miss that but I'll bet it was good and the people involved enjoyed it.

They also had a photography competition, you can see some of the amazing images that were entered into that here on the Haggewoods site. Of course I had to have a go at that! The project made it at really special competition by having a presentation of the photos and films from the project and a prize giving ceremony at Selby Abbey, an impressive place I'd not been to before. Well I knew that I'd been shortlisted for a prize due to being invited there but I never expected to do so well. I did well in two categories and my photo below was the overall winner for my age category. After seeing the other images I was amazed to have done so well. Part of the prize was a canvas print of the wining picture - that is proudly hanging on our hall wall now for everyone to see when they enter the house!

Grouse in Heather.

So, and I'm very sorry this is overdue, I want to say a very big thank you to Rosalind, Nick and all the other folks at  Haggewoods and Project Wild CIC. It was really great to be involved in a project from the start and I really enjoyed helping out.

Thanks also to the Heritage Lottery Fund. I really hope after the success of the project that there will be more of this sort of thing to come.

Hope you enjoyed.