Grassroots Challenge

Grassroots Challenge

Helping young people take action for wildlife

Would you like to help make a difference to your local environment and community?

The Grassroots Challenge gives young people aged 11-24 the opportunity to gain essential skills, knowledge and training to take action for wildlife in their neighbourhood, whilst also improving their confidence, employability and wellbeing.

Up until December 2020, the project will see over 5,000 young people get active for wildlife and the environment through Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Special Schools across Northern Ireland, thanks to National Lottery players. 

A range of partner organisations is involved in helping to deliver this exciting youth empowerment project, including Keep NI Beautiful, Northern Ireland Environment Link and Lantra.

The Grassroots Challange is one of 31 projects which make up ‘Our Bright Future’ - an ambitious and innovative partnership led by The Wildlife Trusts which brings together the youth and environmental sectors. 

How to get involved

Young Farmers' Clubs of Ulster

There are a number of ways Young Farmers Clubs and their members can get involved in the Grassroots Challenge:

Club Night Challenge

Young Farmers Clubs can start their involvement with the Grassroots Challenge by booking a Club Night Challenge.  One of our Project Officers will come out to one of the Clubs normal meetings to share information about local wildlife. Club members then also get the opportunity to do something small to help wildlife such as building a bat box, making bird feeders etc. 

Trillick YFC making bird boxes

Trillick YFC making bird boxes

Wild Ideas Project

Clubs can apply for up to £300 to develop and deliver environmental projects within their own community as well as accessing support from the Project Officers.  The projects enable young people to develop their personal and environmental skills and knowledge and actively engage with their local community.

Projects 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.  See our Wild Ideas leaflet for more details.

Eco Club Awards

Club Night Challenge and Wild Idea Project activities can count towards Clubs gaining a Bronze, Silver or Green Eco Club Award from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. Download the YFCU Eco Club Handbook.

Training opportunities

Young Farmers can book on to highly subsidised training courses offered by the Grassroots Challenge such as dry stone walling, hedge planting, hedge laying and safe use of pesticides.  Some training is accredited by LANTRA including the specially designed one day "Conservation on the Farm, Northern Ireland" course which our Project Officers can deliver free of charge to Clubs on request.

To find out more contact Orlagh McLaughlin or Andrew Gracey, Grassroots Challenge Project Officers for Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster 
Orlagh - email:, tel: 028 9046 3113, mobile: 07816065978
Andrew - email:, tel: 028 9046 3128, mobile: 07816065948

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award/Joint Award Initiative

The Grassroots Challenge programme supports young people to complete the volunteering, skills, expedition or residential sections of their Award through activities that benefit wildlife and the environment.  

Volunteering project grants of up to £300 are available as are skills development grants of up to £50.  Volunteering placement opportunities, skills starter packs, wildlife expedition packs and training sessions plus a Halloween break Gold level Wildlife and Outdoor Adventure Residential are all available.

To find out more contact Dawn Patterson, Grassroots Challenge Project Co-ordinator by email, telephone 028 90 463116 or mobile 07816 065923.

Comber Greenway DofE volunteers

Simon King with Comber Greenway DofE volunteers 

Special Schools (secondary age only)

We can deliver a series of nature and wildlife sessions over eight weeks to participating classes within their own school grounds. These are developed in 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 in 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 by email or tel: 028 9046 3115. 

Small Grants

Any school can apply for a grant of up to £100 to do an environmental project or activity in their school grounds or local community. Download the small grants leaflet for more information. To apply please download and complete the grant application form.

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