The Duke of Cambridge meets with British Trust for Ornithology’s young citizen scientists

02 Dec 2021 | No. 2021-56

Meeting young citizen scientists, who collect data on the UK’s bird populations for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), The Duke of Cambridge today learned of the huge benefits that participation in citizen science brings to young people. Active participation in BTO surveys, and birdwatching more generally, helps young people to develop valuable skills for future careers and contributes to their well-being through engagement with the natural world.

The young conservationists who met with His Royal Highness have been working with BTO through its Youth Advisory Panel to develop new opportunities for young people, as well as addressing the barriers to participation that prevent more young people from engaging with science and the natural world.

The BTO Youth Advisory Panel has proven a springboard for new projects and schemes for young people. These schemes help them develop their skill and enjoyment of birdwatching and to become more actively involved in collecting the information that underpins our understanding of what is happening to the UK’s bird populations. One of the most popular schemes that the Panel has initiated is the Equipment Donation Scheme. The scheme enables birdwatchers to donate surplus binoculars, telescopes and bird identification guides, to BTO to distribute to young people who cannot access or afford such equipment themselves. So far over 1,200 young people have benefitted from the scheme.

The Duke of Cambridge, invited the group to meet with him at Kensington Palace so he could hear first-hand about the work they do in a voluntary capacity for BTO. He heard about the range of surveys in which they take part and the importance of the work they do with BTO, as well as the way they are working to help the organisation ‘grow younger’. He also heard about the benefits of encouraging more young people to connect with nature, including the positive effect on their mental health. Lastly, he learned about their desire to address their concerns for the climate and the need for clear scientific data to help do so.

Professor Juliet Vickery, CEO of BTO, said, “We need to do all we can to help the next generation tackle the environmental crises we face. Birds are important and valuable indicators of the health of our environment and they are unique in their ability to engage anyone and everyone with the world around them. Our brilliant Youth Advisory Panel has transformed BTO’s work to support young people in their interest in the natural world and in enabling them to make an active contribution to securing its future as citizen scientists. I am delighted that The Duke of Cambridge, has taken the opportunity to find out more about the important contributions that these and other young people are making.”

Matt Lonsdale, BTO Youth Advisory Panel, said, “It's fantastic to know that The Duke of Cambridge has a shared interest and enthusiasm with the work that we are doing as part of BTO's Youth Advisory Panel. It was great to be able to meet him and share my passion for birds and conserving them for future generations. His commitment to working with people like us on environmental issues has provided me with even more inspiration to continue my work with BTO's Youth Advisory Panel, alongside other work to make birdwatching open to everyone”

Contact Details
Paul Stancliffe
 (BTO Media Manager)
Mobile: 07585 440910
Email: press [at] (subject: News%20release%20enquiry)

Mike Toms (Head of Communications)
Mobile 07850 500791
Email: press [at] (subject: News%20release%20enquiry)

Images are available for use alongside this News Release. These can be downloaded from this link for which you will need to enter the password YAP202156 alternatively, please contact press [at] quoting reference 2021-56

Notes for editors

BTO Youth Advisory Panel 
is a group of young volunteers who help steer BTO to better serve their 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.

BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Belfast (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations.

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