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Young people grasp volunteering opportunity to help in protected landscapes through Young Ranger Groups
(28/05/21)
Posted by TOW partner : Yorkshire Dales National Park

 

An introduction to the Young Rangers volunteering group, as an example of how young people can get involved with protected landscapes through Young / Junior Ranger groups, what their involvement means to them and what they get up to.

 

Young Rangers is for anyone aged 11-16 years who loves the outdoors. It is an amazing opportunity for young people to work alongside Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority staff, other environmental organisations and land owners. We have three groups in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and the task days involve lots of practical work and having fun in all weathers. Other National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) also have Young Ranger (sometimes called Junior Rangers) schemes that might be closer to where you live.

 

Many of our Young Rangers discovered their interest in environmental work through school, such as in school wildlife gardens; which is a great starting point for exploring the topic of conservation in a practical way. Volunteering offers further opportunities to develop this interest, as young people acquire, “hands on experience to help the environment.” Practical tasks outside make the environment relevant to young people; Faye, a former Young Ranger aged 19, expands on this as, “the perfect chance to connect with something other than the Wifi”. Young people “need a connection, which increases with more awareness and responsibility.”

 

Benji, aged 16 and a Young Ranger for over 2 years, says: “I love being a Young Ranger. After the first lockdown, it was great getting back out doing the things I love and in the places I love - doing different tasks all over the Yorkshire Dales. I am passionate about nature, so I am glad that being a Young Ranger allows me to play a small part to conserve nature for future generations.”

 

During a lunchtime discussion on a recent task day, when asked about the barriers that prevent young people from getting involved in environmental volunteering, our Young Rangers said that, “opportunities and experiences are not always available to everyone”, but also sometimes it can come down to, “a lack of motivation”. There is certainly not a lack of motivation to grasp the opportunities and experiences ahead of these young people; as Muhammed, aged 14, explains in his account of a recent session: “Last Sunday, eleven of us intrepid Young Rangers met on a cold and drizzly day. ‘Why did you go?’ you might be wondering. Why would I spend several hours on a cold, wet day when I could be at home in front of a warm fire? It was proof to me that young people really do care about the environment.”

 

"[Young Rangers provides] the perfect chance to connect with something other than the Wifi”

 

 

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