Hi, I’m Dan and I have been volunteering as part of the Growing Confidence Project at Shropshire Wildlife Trust since February 2017. Growing Confidence is one of 31 projects that make up the Our Bright Future programme funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.
As part of these volunteering activities, I and other young people learn practical conservation skills to benefit Shropshire’s wildlife and nature around us – helping us build confidence that the species and habitat they rely upon will remain for future generations. I have also attended several activities at Preston Montford where I have learned skills including moth trapping and identification, performed a ‘bioblitz’ and identified native flora.
As part of my involvement with the Growing Confidence Project, myself and Laurence Kinnersley became Youth Representatives for the project as part of the Our Bright Future Youth Forum. The Our Bright Future Youth Forum is made up of young people from projects all over the UK. Each one can nominate one or two Youth Representatives who get together to discuss conservation, environmental and youth voice issues and how to resolve them.
As part of this, we came up with three Asks; three suggested changes to Governmental policy and how young people are involved in society.
Ask 1 – More time spent learning in and about nature
Ask 2 – Support to get into environmental jobs
Ask 3 – Government, employers, businesses, schools and charities to pay more attention to the needs of young people and the environment.
By progressing these asks, we hope that both young people and the environment will benefit greatly.
By being involved with this Youth Forum I, and a small group of others from Shropshire Wildlife Trust, created our own local youth forum called Youth for the Wild. As part of the forum, we host discussion meetings between young people and expert panellists about local environmental and wildlife issues. From these discussions, the Trust will support these young people to bring about the change they want to see happen in their local area.
I would say that by taking part in the Growing Confidence Project and attending activities at Preston Montford, my life and opportunities have developed beyond what I thought they would ever be. I realise I am now able to undertake practical conservation activities to benefit the natural world and wildlife around me – which I would not have developed in any other way. Similarly, my engagement with others has improved vastly. Just a short time ago I would never have been able to stand up in front of a group of others and deliver a presentation and discussion, but now I do so on a regular basis. Not only have these skills enabled me to gain an offer from The University of Oxford and follow a career in the environmental sector, but they have benefited me in every area of my day-to-day life. I would encourage any young person to become involved with these fantastic projects!
About the Growing Confidence Project
Growing Confidence (GC) is a five year project giving young people the opportunity to discover more about wildlife and wild places and have fun learning skills in their local environment. FSC Preston Montford is working together with Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Fordhall Community Land Initiative to offer a wide range of inspiring opportunities for young people aged 11-25. You can find out more about the Growing Confidence project, an environmental project for young people aged 11-25, at https://www.shropshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/growing-confidence