Grassroots Challenge

Young people take on Grassroots ChallengeYoung people take on Grassroots Challenge

Would you like to help create a brighter, greener future in Northern Ireland? We’re inviting young people to take on the Grassroots Challenge and help lead local environmental projects, which will benefit your community.

You will have the opportunity to gain practical and social skills, experience and confidence needed for employment, work towards an accredited qualification, as well as improving your own neighbourhood through ‘wild ideas’ projects.

Up until December 2020, Ulster Wildlife’s ‘Grassroots Challenge’ project will bring the great outdoors to life for 5,000 young people, aged 11-24, through Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and special schools.

A range of partner organisations will be involved in helping to deliver the project, including Keep NI Beautiful, Northern Ireland Environment Link and Lantra.

This exciting youth empowerment project is one of 31 which make up ‘Our Bright Future’, a UK-wide programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund and run by a consortium of organisations which is led by the Wildlife Trusts.

To find out more contact: Alexey Janes, Grassroots Challenge Project Coordinator – alexey.janes@ulsterwildlife.org - 028 9046 3116, 07816065919

How to get involved

Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster (YFCU)

Individuals and groups/clubs from YFCU will design, develop and deliver environmental projects within their own community with support from Project Officers. The projects will enable young people to develop their personal and environmental skills and knowledge and actively engage with their local community. Projects could include planting a wildflower meadow, building bird boxes, developing a community wildlife garden, running fun family nature events and activities for their local community or raising awareness of environmental issues with local councillors. Projects can range in size and scope and can take place over one day or several months to a year.

Each participating club/group will have the opportunity to be assessed against key areas and work towards achieving an Eco-Club award.

To find out more contact: Shona Campbell, Grassroots Challenge Project Officer for Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster – shona.campbell@ulsterwildlife.org - 028 9046 3113, 07816065978
or Andrew Gracey, Grassroots Challenge Project Officer for Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster 
 andrew.gracey@ulsterwildlife.org - 028 9046 3128, 07816065948

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE)

‘Wild Ideas' projects at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels will count towards the volunteering and/or skills sections of your Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or Gaisce- The President's Award. Projects can start from a Bronze level self-directed/organized biodiversity audit of your own garden or local park/green area with one hour per week used to record the wildlife seen over the course of a period of 3 or 6 months and records fed into the online recording system managed by the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording.

To find out more contact: Jen Banks, Grassroots Challenge Project Officer for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – jen.banks@ulsterwildlife.org - 028 9046 3101, 07816065923 

Benefits to young people from YFCU and DofE:

• Work towards an Environmental Award accredited by Lantra
• Develop personal, social and environmental skills, confidence and employment prospects
• Specialised training as may be appropriate for specific projects such as health and safety and chainsaw, brush cutter or pesticides use.
• Opportunity to develop skills and experience working with special schools and young people with physical/learning needs within your own ‘Wild Ideas’ Projects if appropriate
• Take part in an Assembly Engagement Programme. Receive training on how the NI Assembly works, how to lobby effectively to influence environmental policies and practices, and meet political representatives. A public debating competition on environmental topics will also be organised.

Special Schools

Our Project Officer will deliver a series of nature and wildlife sessions to participating classes within their own school grounds with close liaison with teachers to ensure sessions are best suited to those taking part. Each participating class will then be supported to design, develop and deliver a ‘Wild Ideas’ environmental project within their school grounds and/or local community.

Benefits to young people within special schools

• Young people will learn about the nature and wildlife on their doorstep.
• Young people will gain skills in bird box and mini beast hotel building, bird feeding, pond dipping, surveying etc.
• Young people will gain confidence learning about the world around them, working with each other, caring for other living creatures, pride in their achievements.

To register your school’s interest contact: Christine Chambers, Grassroots Challenge Project Officer for Special Schools – christine.chambers@ulsterwildlife.org - 028 9046 3115

An annual event will be held to showcase and celebrate all the young people’s achievements and award projects.