Zach's Story: Sharing His Love for Wildlife

Zach has a big passion for nature and is doing his bit to encourage others to value and enjoy it too. As part of our series to celebrate #iwill week, we’ve asked young people to share their ideas and experiences with us, and here Zach gives some pointers for how you can make a difference too!

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Zach! I live in North Yorkshire which makes me quite lucky as I have lots of countryside that I can explore. That’s great for me as I have a big passion for nature which has been growing since I was very young. I’ll tell you about how this developed in a bit but one of my biggest ambitions is to try and get more people, especially people my age, appreciating and caring for nature. So, I was very happy to get involved with the #OurBrightFuture campaign as this is all about spreading the message that all our futures, particularly young peoples’, are connected to the future of the environment. I’ve been amazed how some of the little actions I’ve been able to take can make a difference and this campaign is all about lots of us making little differences which will add up to big changes. It’s all about us #Owningit, taking charge of the environment for our futures. I’ll talk about how it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can make more than a little difference.

So, I’ve got my parents to thank for my love of nature I think as since before I could even walk they’ve taken me out through woods, moors, mountains, valleys and dales. I’ve got some great early memories of gazing over lakes, watching and listening to waterfalls, feeding ducks and geese and many more.  As I got older I started a blog as a way of learning about the things I would find as I explored the countryside on our family walks. The more I wrote about nature the more I learnt about all of the wonderful wildlife around us, how fascinating and wonderful it is.  I also started to realise how fragile it is and the impact humankind is having on the environment. I talk about this a lot with my family and lots of the people I met through my blog when I’ve had the chance to visit reserves or go to events like Birdfair.

It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can make more than a little difference.

I started to wonder what I could do to help. I’d do practical things like putting up bird boxes, growing bee friendly flowers, helping out at reserves and those sort of things, but I wondered how else I could make a difference.  I was 10 when I started blogging, I’m only thirteen now, but I’ve learnt there are a lot that young people can do to make a difference. Here are a few of the things that I’ve discovered whilst doing my blog that anyone can do to help nature.

  • Do a beach clean or litter pick Just remember gloves, a bag and to be careful. Leave sharp stuff alone! If you saw Blue Planet 2, you’ll know how important it is to stop litter getting into the oceans.
  • In the garden put up bird boxes and insect homes. You can even build your own, I did it with Dad so most people should be able to. Also, plant bee and butterfly friendly plants and go organic. Not using pesticides will really help the wildlife in your garden to flourish.
  • Join in with citizen science projects like Big Garden Birdwatch (sign ups for 2018 start on 13th December!) or Big Butterfly Count – they are great ways to find out what’s in your garden or local patch and they help scientists monitor what’s going on with wildlife populations.
  • A really easy action is to write about wildlife, share your passion and try to inspire others. I found that my blog has helped raise awareness, inspiring and encouraging other people to care for nature, if you have the time I’d recommend to anyone they should start a blog!
  • Raise money for wildlife causes that matter to you; through sponsored walks, bike rides, cake sales or anything you can think of really, sometimes the funnier the idea the better! I'm currently selling a 2019 wildlife calendar and raising money for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
  • Volunteer at a reserve. Lots of organisations welcome people of all ages to do little jobs or to help care for visitors or even just help explain things to them.

So, there are lots of ways to get out there and do things to help out wildlife and the environment. Just because we’re young doesn’t mean we can’t be active conservationists. I may not have a vote, but I have an opinion and there are plenty of things I can do to help make a difference.

Taking actions like this will show people it’s #OurBrightFuture and we’re #OwningIt!

Zach Haynes

Zach Haynes

Find out more about Our Bright Future and the #iwill campaign

Our Bright Future

Our Bright Future is an ambitious and innovative partnership led by The Wildlife Trusts, which brings together the youth and environmental sectors. This £33 million programme funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund is formed of 31 projects across the UK. Each project is helping young people aged 11-24 gain vital skills and experience, and improve their wellbeing. At the same time they act as catalysts for delivering change for their local environment and community; whilst contributing to a greener economy.

#iwill Campaign

#iwill is a UK-wide campaign that aims to make social action part of life for as many 10 to 20 year-olds as possible by the year 2020. Step Up To Serve is the charity that coordinates the collective effort of the #iwill campaign by connecting campaign partners, communicating the stories and impact of quality social action and challenging partners to do more.

Ultimately, #iwill want young people to have the chance to take part in meaningful social action – building a habit for life and further empowering them to be more active citizens today and in the future.