Youth Advisory Panel (YAP)
Meet our panel of young volunteers who help steer BTO to better serve our younger supporters. The Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) 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 BTO's 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.
Our future - in your hands
We are developing our youth engagement programme to find and nurture our surveyors of the future. With your help we can provide resources to educate, engage and empower.
Adam, 16, Kent
Adam is a birdwatcher based in Kent in his final year of GCSEs. In his spare time he enjoys wildlife photography and he is particularly interested in finding links between the natural world with learning in school, most of all with maths! His first interactions with the BTO were during their Birding 101 and Nature Natter sessions, but he became fully invested in the work done by BTO Youth when he attended bird camp, which ignited a plethora of new friendships, fantastic birding experiences and newfound confidence. Adam wants more young people to experience the fun he had, and he is passionate about helping young people’s mental health through engagement with the outdoors. During his time volunteering with BTO Youth, Adam wishes to help create a welcoming atmosphere for new young birders. When he is older he hopes to help more young people develop an interest in nature which can be beneficial for their wellbeing.
Alicia, 23, Bristol / North Yorkshire
Alicia is a 23-year-old award-winning wildlife artist, filmmaker, writer, animator, and photographer from North Yorkshire, now based in Bristol. She has a degree in Biological Sciences from Oxford University, and has just completed a Master’s in Wildlife Filmmaking from UWE, where she produced her film “The Watchman” about a Zimbabwean wildlife artist called Tichaona Ncube. Alicia loves to explore innovative forms of science communication, and is particularly passionate about artivism and artistic filmmaking. 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 visit her website or Instagram to see more of her work.
Arjun, 19, London
Arjun is a 19-year-old nature-lover from South London. Whilst birdwatching has always been his greatest passion, he is also an environmental campaigner and sound recording addict. 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 has recently volunteered on youth forums for a number of organisations, including the National Trust and the London Wildlife Trust, while also being an ambassador for the Cameron Bespolka Trust and #iwill campaign. He's currently studying Geography at the University of Cambridge.
Elizabeth, 22, Leeds
Elizabeth is a 22-year-old aspiring conservationist, 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 forward 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.
Emma, 21, Surrey/Oxford
Emma is a student in her third year studying Biology at the University of Oxford. She is passionate about protecting the environment and strives to use and develop her skills to work towards forward-thinking solutions. She is keen to create more opportunities for young people to connect with nature and science and embed young people into the sector. Through increasing awareness of the positive impacts this engagement can have on mental health, she hopes to contribute to helping the young community enjoy nature and overcome their own challenges. Inspired by other panel members, Emma set up a new society at university – Oxford Ornithological Student Society, a gateway to providing that opportunity to her peers. She engages in the avian parts of her course, in particular spotting BTO data in lectures and referencing it in her own work. She recently enjoyed an Avian Behaviour and Ecology field course to Copeland Bird Observatory. Emma became the Young Trustee of BTO at the start of 2023 and is excited to bring a young person’s perspective to the Board.
Esther, 16, Gloucestershire
Esther has been into birding and nature in general since she was 9. Now her interest has developed into a passion for the environment, and she is volunteering at WWT Slimbridge, hoping to go into wetland conservation to support the wetland habitats she has grown to love on her birding patch. Esther also enjoys art and uses this hobby to advocate and raise awareness of the threats nature faces in an alternative way, as well as engaging other people in nature through this media. This includes nature journaling, documenting what she learns and finds whilst out birding in nature, and painting birds in watercolour. Esther is particularly interested in engaging young women and girls in nature and making sure there are no barriers for them to get into the conservation sector, as well as creating safe and comfortable environments for them, especially within the birding community.
George, 20, Avon/Oxford
George is studying biology at the University of Oxford, where he is looking forward to expanding his interests in behaviour, ecology and evolution, and applying these to 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. At university, he has been involved with Oxford Ornithological Student Society. 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, 18, Edinburgh
Katie has always had a passion for the outdoors. She is currently studying ecology and conservation at St. Andrews university, whilst enjoying painting watercolours of the wildlife she’s seen and a keen photographer in her spare time. She has volunteered with different projects within the RSPB for over four years, as well as volunteering with the BDMLR and as a youth team leader at a conservation program in Edinburgh with RZSS, helping to inspire younger generations to become involved in the protection of the environment. She has a particular interest in birdlife, undertaking a research project into the impact of herbicides on farmland birds. 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, 23, Norfolk
Matt is a 23-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, 21, 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, 19, Buckinghamshire / Bristol
Megan is a wildlife enthusiast from Buckinghamshire currently in her second year of study at Zoology Bristol University. She first got involved with the BTO back in 2017 during bird camp, then the Bird Fair, and has been a part of the Youth Advisory Panel since its creation in 2020. She enjoys wildlife photography and has recently been getting involved in wildlife film. She hopes to one day have a career in the conservation sector.
Rosie, 17, Isle of Wight
Rosie is a birder and wildlife lover from the Isle of Wight. She's happiest when exploring the outdoors and has had a lifelong passion for the natural world, encouraged by her family growing up. Currently, she is in her first year of A-Levels, studying Biology, Geology and Art. She really enjoys getting creative and making the link between art and nature. In the future she hopes to pursue a career in wildlife ecology, conservation or zoology. She is a member of her local Natural History Society and has helped out at public events in the past, promoting species recording and encouraging young people to appreciate local wildlife. She is also a trainee bird ringer with her local group and a Biosphere Ambassador for the Isle of Wight UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. She can’t wait to get started with YAP and make a difference to young people experiencing barriers to the natural world. She especially hopes to promote the benefits of spending time outdoors and hopes to spark a new passion for wildlife in more young people.
Samuel, 22, 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 has just graduated from Bournemouth University where he studied Ecology and Wildlife Conservation but only to return to study the Biodiversity conservation master's degree. He volunteers for the BTO by doing BBS and being a trainee ringer. He also volunteers during the holidays for the RSPB, and Heath Hands. Over the past few years he has been working with the Dorset Nightjar Study group looking into the study of Nightjars on Urban Heaths. He has thoroughly enjoyed being on the Youth Advisory Panel as it has provided a great opportunity to help shape the future of young people within the BTO since its creation in 2020. He hopes the Panel will continue 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.
Previous Youth Advisory Panel members
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 - December 2022
Ellie is a Geography student at Oxford University. She’s from Shropshire and has particular interests in bird ringing, botany, and encouraging school engagement in nature.
January 2021 – December 2022
Emily works as the Campaigns Lead for an eNGO. She is a passionate writer and science communicator. You can follow her 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.
January 2020 - January 2021
Sorrel is passionate about improving representation of minority groups in nature and building an inclusive nature movement. She has recently started working at BTO running the Ripple Project in Northern Ireland; you can read more about her work on her staff page.
Read our Young Birders' Blog
Read fresh takes on birding and volunteering for BTO from young volunteers, and join the conversation.Young Birders' Blog
BTO's Young Leaders Course
The attendees of BTO's Young Leaders Course reflect on what they learned at Spurn.
Gen Z and the BTO
Amy Hall discusses how BTO can better provide opportunities for the next generation of ornithologists.
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