Youth Advisory Panel (YAP)

Meet our panel of young volunteers who help steer BTO to better serve our younger supporters.

The Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) is an integral part of BTO Youth. It has developed an inclusive and extensive Youth Engagement Strategy, helping BTO inspire the next generation of birdwatchers.

They fulfil a strategic function, implementing their ideas in BTO’s wider work, and supporting BTO’s network of Youth Representatives. They also share fresh perspectives on birding and volunteering for BTO from young volunteers as part of the Young Birders’ Blog.

The vision the Youth panel has for BTO’s engagement with young people is:

“A diverse, vibrant community of young birders supported by BTO, with accessible, youth-led opportunities inspiring young people to engage with nature and science.”

Meet the members of BTO’s Youth Advisory Panel

Adam, 16, Kent

Adam is a birdwatcher based in Kent in his first year of the IB Diploma programme, his favourite subject choices including Environmental Systems and Societies, Geography and Maths. In his spare time he enjoys wildlife photography and he is particularly interested in finding links between the natural world with learning in school, most of all with maths!

His first interactions with the BTO were during their Birding 101 and Nature Natter sessions, but he became fully invested in the work done by BTO Youth when he attended bird camp, which ignited a plethora of new friendships, fantastic birding experiences and newfound confidence.

Adam wants more young people to experience the fun he had, and he is passionate about helping young people’s mental health through engagement with the outdoors. During his time volunteering with BTO Youth, Adam wishes to help create a welcoming atmosphere for new young birders. When he is older he hopes to help more young people develop an interest in nature which can be beneficial for their wellbeing.

Alicia, 24, Bristol/North Yorkshire

Alicia is an award-winning wildlife artist, filmmaker, writer, animator, and photographer from North Yorkshire, now based in Bristol. She has a degree in Biological Sciences from Oxford University, and a Master’s in Wildlife Filmmaking from UWE.

Alicia works as a researcher and illustrator for the BBC Natural History Unit in children's TV, as well as continuing her freelance work combining the arts with science. She is a Daler-Rowney artist, an ambassador for Invicta Wildlife Fund and Girls who click, and works closely with David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation on multiple projects, particularly those to do with artivism.

Alicia loves to explore innovative forms of science communication, and is particularly passionate about artivism and artistic filmmaking. She is excited to bring an artistic flair to the BTO’s Youth Advisory Panel, and hopes to inspire more young people – particularly girls – to get involved in ecology, conservation, and ornithology.

You can visit her website or Instagram to see more of her work.

Chloe, 23, Herefordshire

Chloe is a qualified field guide in South Africa, seasonally working out there to connect people to nature through education and wild experiences. She has also worked in rhino, pangolin and elephant conservation and monitoring, to protect endangered species against poaching.

She loves immersing herself in the smaller parts of nature too and is hugely passionate about protecting and restoring valuable ecosystems in South Africa and the UK. She's particularly interested in how we can bring farming and nature together, to improve biodiversity, soil health and habitat for declining bird species - all whilst working with landowners to achieve revolutionary farming and conservation together.

Chloe takes part in local volunteering and citizen science projects like lake and river naturalness surveys, assisting with bird ringing, pond and farmland nature restoration projects and light pollution surveys. She has a strong ambition to use science to create genuine change and she is super excited to be going to study Conservation Biology and Ecology at university!

She believes that opening up this world to young people allows for birds and nature to benefit, as well as the people exploring in it. Helping people to connect is an infectious way of spreading awareness for nature. It encourages people to have these vital conversations surrounding biodiversity loss and ways we can all help wildlife - leading to future students, activists, and ambassadors for our natural environment.

Chloe is super excited to work on the panel and to get involved in youth-led, forward-thinking projects!

Emma, 22, Surrey/Oxford

Emma is a student in her third year studying Biology at the University of Oxford. She is passionate about protecting the environment and strives to use and develop her skills to work towards forward-thinking solutions. She is keen to create more opportunities for young people to connect with nature and science and embed young people into the sector.

Through increasing awareness of the positive impacts this engagement can have on mental health, she hopes to contribute to helping the young community enjoy nature and overcome their own challenges. Inspired by other panel members, Emma set up a new society at university – Oxford Ornithological Student Society, a gateway to providing that opportunity to her peers. She engages in the avian parts of her course, in particular spotting BTO data in lectures and referencing it in her own work.

She recently enjoyed an Avian Behaviour and Ecology field course to Copeland Bird Observatory. Emma became the Young Trustee of BTO at the start of 2023 and is excited to bring a young person’s perspective to the Board.

Esther, 16, Derbyshire

Esther has been fascinated by birds for a long time, but since discovering BTO, her interest in birdwatching has developed into a passion for ornithology. Having attended Bird Camp twice and spent a week doing work experience with BTO, she has experienced first-hand the fantastic work of BTO Youth!

Esther is currently in sixth form, studying Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Music A-levels. She is particularly interested in learning about the science behind birds; this has recently led her to create her own website, where she shares articles she’s written about the anatomy of birds, specifically designed to be accessible to other GCSE and A-level students.

Inspired by a ringing demonstration on Bird Camp, Esther has also started training to ring birds, and is enjoying the opportunity to learn more about birds in the hand! She’s also keen on taking part in BTO surveys such as Nesting Neighbours in her garden, and when not exploring the natural world, she enjoys playing the violin and piano. 

As a member of the Youth Advisory Panel, Esther hopes to make a difference to other young people, by helping them to develop their interest in birds and discover a community of like-minded people. 

Esther, 16, Gloucestershire

Esther has been into birding and nature in general since she was nine. Now her interest has developed into a passion for the environment, and she is volunteering at WWT Slimbridge, hoping to go into wetland conservation to support the wetland habitats she has grown to love on her birding patch.

Esther also enjoys art and uses this hobby to advocate and raise awareness of the threats nature faces in an alternative way, as well as engaging other people in nature through this media. This includes nature journaling, documenting what she learns and finds whilst out birding in nature, and painting birds in watercolour.

Esther is particularly interested in engaging young women and girls in nature and making sure there are no barriers for them to get into the conservation sector, as well as creating safe and comfortable environments for them, especially within the birding community. 

George, 21, Avon/Oxford

George is studying biology at the University of Oxford, where he is looking forward to expanding his interests in behaviour, ecology and evolution, and applying these to conservation. Inspired by his interest in birds and love of the natural world, George undertook a research project on garden birds’ responses to coloured feeders, winning GSK UK Young Scientist of the Year at the BigBang Fair and going on to represent the UK at the EU Contest for Young Scientists.

George also shared his enthusiasm for nature by co-leading his Sixth Form’s environment group, planting trees across the school site and creating a wildlife pond. At university, he has been involved with Oxford Ornithological Student Society.

These experiences showed George the value of research, communication and engagement; he is looking forward to establishing enjoyable and inspirational opportunities for young people to engage with nature and science, helping to create a community that is ready to understand and tackle biodiversity loss and other environmental challenges.

Haydn, 20, Suffolk

Haydn is an Assistant Warden for the RSPB at their Lakenheath Fen reserve, working to conserve iconic Fens & Brecks species including Cranes, Bitterns and Stone-curlews. He started his career in conservation as a residential volunteer at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen, helping the British Swallowtail butterfly and other Broads specialities. He also has previous experience as a beach-nesting bird warden on the East Norfolk coast, leading on Kestrel diversionary feeding to ensure the breeding success of Little Tern and Ringed Plover.

As a keen all-round naturalist, Haydn has a passion for identifying and recording all kinds of species, and can often be found poking around in the undergrowth for fungi or chasing beetles with his phone camera. He also carries out regular surveys for BTO including the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and Waterways Breeding Bird Survey (WBBS) and Woodcock counts. Away from conservation, Haydn enjoys strongman training and caring for his collection of houseplants.

By being a Youth Advisory Panel member, Haydn hopes to be a window into the practical side of conservation, and to learn more about how different groups of young people can be encouraged to engage with and enjoy nature and birding. He is looking forward to getting a range of perspectives from other young naturalists, and inspiring others to have the same love for nature.

Karmannye, 20, London

Karmannye is a student from Chandigarh, India currently studying biology at Queen Mary University London. He has been birdwatching for the past 8–9 years and enjoys displaying the avifauna he observes through his photography, art, articles and stories.

Over the past years he has seen and enjoyed quite a few phenomena of nature and documented them through various means. He is also an ISSF rifle shooter and avid polo player, both of which bring him closer to nature and he enjoys his free time documenting fauna in the lower Himalayas.

In the past, he has conducted several bird surveys in India with the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and the Punjab Forest Department and currently serves as the Head of Research for the non-governmental organisation Avian Habitat & Wetland Society undertaking research on waterfowl population dynamics in Chandigarh, India. Karmannye is also looking into the temporal variation and taxonomy of aquatic invertebrates to determine the prey base of waterfowl at the Natural History Museum, London.

He first heard of BTO through volunteering as a surveyor for the Wetland Bird Survey in London, and BTO’s research and data science in this field really intrigued him to join BTO’s Youth Advisory Panel to find out more about this field along with meeting like-minded people.

Katie, 19, Edinburgh

Katie has always had a passion for the outdoors. She is currently studying ecology and conservation at St. Andrews university, whilst enjoying painting watercolours of the wildlife she’s seen and a keen photographer in her spare time.

She has volunteered with different projects within the RSPB for over four years, as well as volunteering with the BDMLR and as a youth team leader at a conservation program in Edinburgh with RZSS, helping to inspire younger generations to become involved in the protection of the environment.

She has a particular interest in birdlife, undertaking a research project into the impact of herbicides on farmland birds. She looks forward to working with the panel to help break the stigma and barriers surrounding nature-based actions, encouraging more young people to appreciate and protect the natural world around them.

Kit, 16, Norfolk

Kit is a Norfolk-based school student and from September 2024 will be studying her A-levels in Sociology, Geography and Biology. She has a keen interest in birds and hopes to pursue a career which promotes nature as an integral part of communities and our society.

She currently promotes mental health in nature to young people, via her youth-led activism group Earthling Action. She feels very privileged to be able to access nature regularly but believes it should be a basic right.

Her hobbies include painting, dancing, reading and wildlife watching.

Megan, 20, Buckinghamshire/Bristol

Megan is a wildlife enthusiast from Buckinghamshire currently in her second year of study at Zoology Bristol University.

She first got involved with the BTO back in 2017 during bird camp, then the Bird Fair, and has been a part of the Youth Advisory Panel since its creation in 2020.

She enjoys wildlife photography and has recently been getting involved in wildlife film. She hopes to one day have a career in the conservation sector.

Rosie, 17, Isle of Wight

Rosie is a birder and wildlife lover from the Isle of Wight. She’s happiest when exploring the outdoors and has had a lifelong passion for the natural world, encouraged by her family growing up. Currently, she is in her first year of A-Levels, studying Biology, Geology and Art.

She really enjoys getting creative and making the link between art and nature. In the future she hopes to pursue a career in wildlife ecology, conservation or zoology. She is a member of her local Natural History Society and has helped out at public events in the past, promoting species recording and encouraging young people to appreciate local wildlife.

She is also a trainee bird ringer with her local group and a Biosphere Ambassador for the Isle of Wight UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. She can’t wait to get started with YAP and make a difference to young people experiencing barriers to the natural world. She especially hopes to promote the benefits of spending time outdoors and hopes to spark a new passion for wildlife in more young people.

Samuel, 23, London/Dorset

Samuel has been interested in wildlife since he was 8 years old, which has seen him trying to turn his hobby into a profession and also to try and get others actively involved in his main hobby, which is birdwatching, and nature.

He has just graduated from Bournemouth University where he studied Ecology and Wildlife Conservation but only to return to study the Biodiversity conservation master's degree. He volunteers for the BTO by doing BBS and being a trainee ringer. He also volunteers during the holidays for the RSPB, and Heath Hands.

Over the past few years he has been working with the Dorset Nightjar Study group looking into the study of Nightjars on Urban Heaths. He has thoroughly enjoyed being on the Youth Advisory Panel as it has provided a great opportunity to help shape the future of young people within the BTO since its creation in 2020.

He hopes the Panel will continue to provide a great opportunity to inspire the next generation of wildlife enthusiasts to come and volunteer for the BTO and to get more recognition for the younger people who already make a difference within the BTO. You can follow him on Twitter.

Young people are the future of BTO

With your help, we can do more to reach out to, connect with and support them.

Donate to the BTO Youth Appeal today

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