I really love to share my ideas online, on Twitter and on my blog. I’ve spoken to lots of people on a stage about nature and conservation, but, I have never sat with a group of my generation conveying passion, sharing our voices and our hopeful actions. Until, last week!

On Saturday 10th March, I attended the inaugural meeting of the Grassroots Challenge Youth Forum. I applied last year and was delighted to be successful. The Grassroots Challenge is a project facilitated by Ulster Wildlife and funded by The Big Lottery Fund. It consists of Young Farmers Unions, Duke of Edinburgh Award students and those who attend schools which focus on extra needs. Even though I don’t fall into these categories I am so excited to be a part of the Youth Forum – a group of eight young people from around Northern Ireland, a group of passionate voices, a group who want to instigate change and more care towards nature and wildlife. Young people speaking to other young people. I am really passionate about the ability of my generation to get the most important issues in our society across to other young people, who for one reason or another, are not aware of the problems we face and more importantly, how they can all do something to help.

The meeting was held at one of my favourite places to watch birds – RSPB Window on Wildlife (WoW!) and yes, we did lots of birdwatching!

We discussed the basis of what we hope to achieve – awareness, education and positive action. We talked about lots of important issues such as native wildlife, climate change, waste, conservation, sustainable agriculture and plastic pollution – that’s a lot, because there’s a lot to do!! We chatted about how we would deliver our message – organise events, social media, work with companies to make them more environmentally aware and visit schools. Our group will also organise the Grassroots Challenge end of year celebration night .

We will be doing a lot more than talking though. What will follow will be positive action. I dislike talk without action, it’s not enough! We’ll be getting out into the community to get our message across and we will shout it loud enough for all to hear. Positively and respectfully but not, complacently.

It feels really great to be part of a group of young people, who all feel as passionately about conservation as I do. I find social situations really very difficult (read more here ) and honestly, I experienced sensory overload as the carpet was a crazy colour (I still see it when I close my eyes!!), but it was worth it. It always is, because the message and work is more important than those feelings that with support and encouragement, I can overcome.

I can’t wait for our next meeting and I’m really excited to start implementing our ideas!

Other similar blogs :-

https://youngfermanaghnaturalist.com/2017/12/06/plastic-predator-by-blathnaid/

https://youngfermanaghnaturalist.com/2017/04/11/awareness-education-and-engagement-challenges-and-successes/

https://youngfermanaghnaturalist.com/2017/02/13/new-nature-emergence-of-the-young-naturalists/

Thanks for reading

Dara