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.
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.
Ellie, 18, Shropshire
Ellie is a 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
Emma is a gap year student who is looking forward to starting a degree in Biology at the University of Oxford in October 2020. She is passionate about the environment and strives to use and develop her skills to create solutions to preserve our planet for the future. During school Emma was a student mentor for the Biology department, working closely with other students to support their learning both within and beyond the curriculum. She has recorded various ‘KYTOS’ podcasts on topics such as photosynthesis, CRISPR and bioluminescence. With her love for birds and enthusiasm for science, she is excited to be a part of the Youth Advisory Panel to work in a field that fascinates her and create new ways to inspire the next generation.
Greg, 25, Cambridge
Greg is 25 and currently 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. He studied Earth Sciences at university - so he knows more about rocks than birds - but he’s particularly interested in how people connect with nature and environmental issues, be that biodiversity loss, climate change or natural hazards. He’s looking forward to working with the Youth Advisory Panel to make sure as many young people as possible can get involved in BTO's scientific work in ways that are meaningful for the individuals and the organisation... and to learning more about birds along the way.
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, 20, Norfolk
Matt is a 20-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, 19, London
Maura has just finished her first year of studying Biology 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. Maura has volunteered as part of her local 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 is excited to bring these skills to the Youth Advisory Panel, to make birding more accessible to young people of different backgrounds and to create new initiatives to get them involved in the work of the BTO.
Megan, 16, Buckinghamshire
Megan is a 16-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, 20, London / Dorset
Sam 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.
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