Youth Advisory Panel
Meet our panel of young volunteers who help steer BTO to better serve our younger supporters. The Youth Advisory Panel 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 our network of Youth Representatives.
The vision the panel has for BTO's engagement with young people is:
A diverse, vibrant community of young birders supported by the BTO, with accessible, youth-led opportunities inspiring young people to engage with nature and science.
Alicia, 22, North Yorkshire/Bristol
Alicia is a 22-year-old award-winning wildlife photographer, artist, writer, and filmmaker from North Yorkshire. She loves combining the sciences with the arts in her work as an effective way of showing the general public how and why to protect the natural world. Alicia has just graduated in Biological Sciences from Oxford University, and is embarking on a Masters in Wildlife Filmmaking at UWE this year. 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 find out more about Alicia’s work on her website, or by visiting her online portfolio.
Arjun, 18, London
Arjun is a 18-year-old nature-lover from South London. He's currently completing his A Levels, and intends to study Geography at university. While birdwatching has always been his greatest passion, he also enjoys environmental campaigning and photography, and he wants to help BTO become more accessible to as many young people as possible, so that diversity - especially in ethnicity - is less of a barrier to enjoying the natural world. He currently volunteers for the National Trust, is on a youth panel for the London Wildlife Trust and is an ambassador for the Cameron Bespolka Trust and #iwill campaign.
Elizabeth, 21, Leeds
Elizabeth is a 21-year-old Biology undergraduate at the University of Leeds, with a keen interest in ecology and conservation science. Her interest in these areas, particularly farmland conservation, was developed through her placement with the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, where she was a part of the Scottish Lowlands research department throughout 2021. Specifically, she spent much of her time working on the EU Interreg PARTRIDGE Project, a project demonstrating how we can increase our farmland biodiversity throughout Europe. This placement allowed Elizabeth to greatly develop her bird identification skills which she is now keen to take forwards and develop even further. She is delighted to be a part of the BTO’s Youth Advisory Panel so she can help make birding and conservation more accessible and inclusive to young people.
Ellie, 18, Shropshire
Ellie is an 18-year-old young naturalist based in Shropshire. At the moment she’s studying maths, geography and biology for her A-levels. She’s a keen birder, horticulturist and photographer and started a wildlife gardening club from scratch at her school over two years ago, where their work to fundraise over £2,000 has helped transform their school environment and lead her to be RHS Young School Gardener of the Year and an ambassador for the Cameron Bespolka Trust. Having been to BTO youth events previously she understands BTO’s importance and looks forward to enhancing the program to inspire future generations!
Emily, 24, Greater Manchester
Emily is a 24-year-old conservationist with a passion for science communication. After completing her degree in Biological Sciences, Emily still wanted to learn more—so she went on to study a Masters degree in Environmental Bioscience. By day, Emily works in communications for a grassroots environmental charity. By night, she writes and edits articles for natural history magazines; provides consultation on science communication; and creates content for her own Instagram account and website. There’s nothing she loves more than a long walk in the countryside, camera in hand and a dog at her side! Emily is overjoyed to be working with BTO, and is looking forward to helping a diverse range of young people discover the wonders of birdwatching.
Emma, 20, Surrey/Oxford
Emma is in her second year studying a degree in Biology at the University of Oxford. She is passionate about the environment and strives to use and develop her skills to create solutions to preserve our planet for the future. She is also keen to create more awareness of the positive impact of nature on mental health and how our work can help the young community overcome their own challenges. Emma has shared her enthusiasm with others by recording various ‘KYTOS’ podcasts on topics such as photosynthesis, CRISPR and bioluminescence. She has also recently set up an ornithological society at Oxford with the aim to create a community of birders amongst her fellow students. With her love for birds and enthusiasm for science, she is excited for her continued work with YAP to create new ways to inspire the next generation.
George, 19, Avon/Oxford
George is about to start his second year as an undergraduate biology student at the University of Oxford, where he is looking forward to expanding his interests in evolution, ecology and 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. 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, 17, Edinburgh
Katie has always had a passion for the outdoors. She has volunteered with the RSPB for almost three years, and is part of groups within the RSPB such as the Climate Change Youth Steering Group. She is currently studying Scottish Highers in the hope to pursue a career in conservation in the future. She has a particular interest in birdlife, undertaking research last year for an extended project qualification into the impact of herbicides on farmland birds. She is also a keen photographer, and enjoys painting watercolours of the wildlife she's seen. For the last eight years, she's been part of a conservation program in Edinburgh and will become a youth team leader this year in the hope to inspire younger generations to become involved in the protection of the environment. 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, 21, Norfolk
Matt is a 21-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.
Maura, 20, Vale of Glamorgan / Oxford
Maura is a 3rd-year Biologist at the University of Oxford. She loves learning about nature and ecology, and she would like to go into research and conservation in the future. She is a committee member for the new Oxford Ornithological Student Society, which will be running events to get students involved in birding at university. Maura has volunteered as part of her golf club since she was 11, working to get more young people interested in golf, and helping them to develop their confidence whilst having fun. She is a qualified Level 1 volunteer coach and managed the junior team in 2017, leading them to become County Champions for the first time in the club’s history. She brought these skills to the Panel to help create new opportunities for young people to get involved with the work of BTO. She has learnt so much already and is excited to continue making birding more accessible for young people from all backgrounds.
Megan, 18, Buckinghamshire
Megan is an 18-year-old wildlife enthusiast from Buckinghamshire, and she is currently studying biology, psychology and geography for her A-levels. Her aspiration is to study zoology at university and pursue a career in conservation in the future. She is currently a volunteer stock watcher and youth work party participant at her local nature reserve, College Lake, where she enjoys birding and photography as often as she can. She really enjoys getting involved with the BTO at their stand at wildlife events, such as Birdfair.
Samuel, 21, 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 is currently studying Ecology and Wildlife Conservation at Bournemouth University and volunteers for the BTO by doing BBS and being a trainee ringer. He also volunteers during the holidays for the London Wildlife Trust, RSPB, and Heath Hands, as well as being a Young Ambassador for the Cameron Bespolka Trust. In June and July this year he has been working with the Dorset Nightjar Study group as a part of his university placement looking into the study of Nightjars on Urban Heaths. He is looking forward to being on the Youth Advisory Panel as it provides a great opportunity to help shape the future of young people within the BTO. He hopes the Panel will be able 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.
January 2020 - January 2021
Sorrel is an Ecology student at the University of Edinburgh and a keen birder, trainee ringer and wildlife artist. She is also passionate about improving representation of minority groups in nature and building an inclusive nature movement. Her recent work on diversity issues are detailed in this article. You can also follow her on Twitter.
January 2020 - June 2021
Conor is completing a PhD in the field of environmental psychology. His research looks at how to encourage visitors to the Brecon Beacons National Park to be more environmentally friendly, using behaviour change interventions (like signage, interpretation and social media campaigns). You can read more about Conor's work on his website or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
January 2020 - June 2021
Greg works on science engagement for a biomedical research institute at the University of Cambridge. His job is to involve patients and community groups in scientific research that may one day affect their lives. You can follow Greg on Twitter.
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