Dorset Wildlife Trust's Young Journalists

Dorset Wildlife Trust's Young Journalists

Kimmeridge Bay - Maria Clarke

Between March and May 2021, we worked with Participation People (a youth voice organisation) to train a group of amazing young people in journalism skills and supported them to produce a series of blogs and a podcast about environmental issues that mattered to them. Maria Clarke, Dorset LNP Manager and co-ordinator for the initiative, asked them about their experience of being part of the course. By Young Journalists: Charlie Saban, Emma Papka, Jacob Tarrant, Poppy Marshall, Ruby Pruden-Medus and Bethany Stephenson.

What did you like best about the course? 

Bethany: I enjoyed talking to like-minded people who shared a passion for protecting the environment and getting the chance to spread this enthusiasm with other people my age.

Charlie: I enjoyed the learning aspect of the course, delving into the ethics of journalism, and hearing from different people the “behind the scenes” details on what a media related career might look like. Getting to go into more depth about wildlife issues was also interesting and helpful. 

Emma: My personal favourite part of the course was meeting the rest of the group and learning from both them and the leaders/instructors.

Jacob: I liked learning about the ethical values in journalism, I also really enjoyed learning the process before a piece of work is published which we learnt practically when we wrote our blogs and did our podcast.

Poppy: Throughout this experience I have found it incredibly engaging, enjoyable, and rewarding. The best aspect of this course was being able to talk and work with many experts about our environment in Dorset and how it is being affected by climate change.

Ruby: It was extremely refreshing to feel listened to as a young person, especially by a big charity like the Dorset Wildlife Trust. It was great to have the opportunity to learn more from Dorset Wildlife Trust experts and voice our opinions.

What did you learn about Dorset's environment?

Bethany: I learned about the positive impacts the wildlife in Dorset can have on young people’s mental health. It was then interesting to hear about all the ways we can help protect the wildlife around us to help nature and our mental health.

Charlie: I learnt that there were many more issues occurring in Dorset, than just littering and the endangerment of hedgehogs. However, I also learnt about the many solutions being put in place, for example the Nurdle-O-Meter.

Jacob: I learnt that there are more dangers going on right now than just littering. For example in marine life and things like sound pollution and the effects it could have long term and what it has already caused.

Poppy: When tasked with writing our own articles I took great interest in how our sound pollution is affecting Dorset's wildlife. Not only this but I also learnt a lot from other people’s blogs and articles about how marine life is affected, how the environment affects our wellbeing and micro plastics.

Ruby: I learnt so much about how diverse our environment is but also the potential for us to regain even more wildlife through rewilding. I also found it fascinating how nature is interdependent with human lives; we rely on it for our wellbeing and it needs humans to help save it from ecological and climate emergencies. 

Has the course inspired you to do anything differently to either help Dorset’s environment or to help your wellbeing? 

Bethany: We made sure to buy compost that didn’t contain peat for our garden to protect the peat bogs.

Charlie: The course has further reinforced me to continue doing what I’m doing, for example walking and cycling as much as I can, and also participating in Saturday park runs for my wellbeing. 

Emma: One of the things that I have learnt and done further research on is the effect of nature and the environment on our wellbeing, and how it can boost our mental health. Especially after these difficult past few years, this has been very useful, and I think it would benefit a lot of people.

Jacob: Yes, I’ve always been someone who’s thought about the environment before but now I’m conscious of the effects, of everything I do, on the environment. I also have been inspired to do running and cycling more often as it helps my mental wellbeing.

Poppy: I already did small things to help our planet such as weekly litter picks around my school, eco-friendly toilet rolls, refillable shampoos, conditioner etc, reusable water bottles and being vegetarian to reduce my carbon footprint. Since doing this I have signed up for a work observation day and hope to do my work experience at the RSPB in Arne to do environmental conservation. I am also considering running for the youth parliament with environmental issues being my main focus.

Ruby: I have been inspired by the charity’s active efforts in how to address the climate and ecological crisis. This makes me motivated to make the small changes to my life to ensure my generation and future generations can enjoy a diverse wildlife.

How would you like your work to influence decision makers?

Bethany: It would be good to influence decision makers to encourage more projects that local communities and young people can get involved with outdoors to protect the environment around them and also get a stronger connection with nature whilst they do this.

Charlie: I would hope that our work has highlighted some important issues within our environment and that young decision makers take the opportunity to act now and not wait to put their ideas out there and into practice to make a difference.

Emma: We all know that our environment and the nature around us is being destroyed by pollution and climate change. I would personally like our work to influence decision makers to help protect the environment, or at least prevent so much damage from being done.

Jacob: I would like the work we did as a group to influence young decision makers by making them think about the consequences their actions could have, but also the benefits of making a better choice for the planet as it is our only planet.

Poppy: As young people we do not have enough influence on environmental decisions, so I hope that by participating in the Young Journalist group and creating blogs and articles we are able to raise awareness of these very current and global environmental issues. I also hope that the decision makers will then recognise how important our world's future is to young people.  

Ruby: In the wake of COP26 and increased understanding about the climate emergency, I really hope we can raise awareness of the potential for rewilding our landscape not only here in Dorset but worldwide. I hope that our optimistic but urgent attitude will influence proactive change from those in power.

Listen to their podcast here.