The conference begins
The first thing that struck me when I arrived at the conference was the number of volunteers – young, old and in the middle – queuing to sign in at the event, which was held in the Pavilion at the Royal Cornwall Showground, Wadebridge. Many were proudly wearing the T-shirts of their particular groups. Familiar faces from Cornwall Wildlife Trust, including Head of Marine Conservation Ruth Williams, were there with a friendly greeting for everyone as they came in. I noticed Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Awareness Officer Matt Slater and at least one Trustee (Dee Reeves) among the participants, as well as the lovely Sue Sayer and colleagues from Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust, to mention just a few people I know.
Once we’d filled our reusable cups with coffee, had a quick look at some of the many group displays, and settled around a large number of circular wooden tables in the light and airy conference centre, Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive Carolyn Cadman and her son Abe (who particularly likes basking sharks) got us started with a rousing introduction.
Abby takes to the stage
One of our most inspiring (and televisual) local champions, Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Conservation Officer Abby Crosby, whose role includes supporting the Beach Rangers project, was the first speaker. She explained that the Your Shore Beach Rangers is one of only 2 marine projects of the 31 that make up the Wildlife Trusts’ Our Bright Future programme. In just four years so far, the team have engaged with 9,000 school children and 12,433 community members. There are 123 people involved in the long-term, with 3,861 Beach Rangers trained.
Initial Heritage Lottery funding for the five VMCAs finished in 2013, and The National Lottery’s Community Fund money for the Your Shore Beach Rangers project stops after one more year, but the young people of Cornwall will still have these three asks:
- Can they spend more time learning in and about nature?
- Can they have support getting into environmental jobs?
- Will government, employers, businesses, schools and charities pay more attention to young people in the environment?