Youth Advisory Panel (YAP)
Meet our panel of young volunteers who help steer BTO to better serve our younger supporters.
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.”
We are recruiting new Youth Advisory Panel members!
The Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) is made up of young volunteers, who work to make sure that young people are well-represented in BTO and BTO’s work.
“Being part of BTO Youth means belonging to a community who have a shared passion for both nature and youth engagement: a community that values the opinions of everyone and is open to innovative ideas.”
Emma, Youth Advisory Panel Member
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.
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, Gloucestershire
Esther has been into birding and nature in general since she was 9. 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.
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.
Matt, 23, Norfolk
Matt is a 23-year-old lad from Essex currently residing in North Norfolk. Birding has always been his passion and he’s been an obsessive birder since the age of 10, and has been lucky enough to have many great experiences within this hobby for a relatively young person.
He’s currently a residential volunteer at RSPB Titchwell, as well as previously being an assistant warden in Hamford Water, and he is determined to get more young people into birding and conservation. He’s hoping to use his experiences and enthusiasm in doing so, and that’s why he looks forward to working towards this goal with many likeminded people.
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.
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