So this weekend I have been fortunate enough to attend the BTO AGM & Conference and wow, just WOW. What an absolutely fantastic, interesting, inspirational and encouraging event it was!!
All the talks were fascinating, really well presented and everyone was so genuinely passionate about birds, the natural world and the desperate need to conserve it.
My favourite talks were those by James Pearce-Higgins (about birds and how climate change is affecting them), Mark Thomas (about his job as a wildlife crime investigator and the harrowing acts of persecution and egg collecting that still go on today), Dave Leech (always entertaining to listen to because of his immense passion and unquenchable thirst for knowledge), Kate Plummer (some fantastic information on Blackcaps, their wintering activities and the possibility that speciation is occurring now(!!!)) and Viola Ross-Smith (some great data from her gull tracking project and a 3D visual of one of the bird's movements which was outstanding).
I am extremely grateful to the BTO for not only organising this amazing event, but also for inviting myself and 5 other young birders to speak this morning. It was a real privilege and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to share my passion for birds with everyone there and the chance to show the older generation that not only are there young people who have an interest in nature, but that there are young people who are so passionate and determined to do everything we possibly can to protect and conserve the wonderful biosphere that is Earth for future generations.
|The young birders (and some siblings).|
L->R Harley, Ellis, Ben, Evie, me, Abby, Findlay, Toby & Molly.
One thing that was very noticeable when looking at the audience was the sea of grey or greying hair and then there was really quite an age gap as it seemed there was then a massive jump (bar the small number of people bridging the gap) down to a group of people in their mid 20's and then down to myself and the other young speakers. With the benefit of hindsight the best time to be pro-active about encouraging young people would have been about 20-30 years ago but the second best time is now.
Acting now to try and engage with and inspire more young people is something that I feel very passionately about and I will do my utmost best to help the BTO (and other conservation organisations) to achieve this. After all, you won't stand up and protect something if you don't care about it and we need more people to care - we only have 1 planet, we can't afford to destroy it!
Before I finish, I would just like to thank everyone at the BTO, AFON & NGB for all their support and encouragement over the last few years. Without this I wouldn't be where I am today and I most definitely wouldn't have had the guts to stand up in front of an audience of almost 300 people like I did today.
I hope everyone had as good a time at the conference as I did - I can't wait to see what happens in the next year and I'm already looking forward to next year's conference!
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