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3 Dec 2018

Field notes: Go outside, feel the world, get informed

As a focus on young people & nature continues, John Muir Award Administrator Nikki Gordon reflects on our environmental responsibilities

Sitting at waters edge

Working at the John Muir Trust and studying part-time for a Master’s degree in Environmental Law, I am in a unique position where I am surrounded by people who contribute to the protection and enhancement of their natural environment and show an appreciation for nature that I find inspiring. I am fortunate enough in my day to day to be surrounded by a unique combination of influencers and I find their love of nature and will to effect positive change inspiring.

Earlier this year, I was encouraged to sign up for the ‘2050 Climate Group’s Young Leaders Development Programme’. 2050 is an amazing charity dedicated to inspiring young people across Scotland. It encourages involvement in our communities to make positive changes for our future. These changes include developing leadership skills in climate change awareness through participation in environmental actions.

Through joining the ‘Climate Justice Action Group,’ we chose to focus on food production in Scotland - an industry which is one of the major contributors to climate change. As well as considering biodiversity loss and global soil quality loss, the group also looks at antibiotic resistance, food insecurity, poverty, poor working conditions and health related issues.

We decided to highlight the power that food has to create social and environmental change by raising awareness of the Good Food Nation Bill. This proposed Bill seeks to provide a new framework for our food system, promoting more coherency between the sectors of food, farming and health. Most importantly, it guarantees the right to food as a fundamental human right.

For young people, establishing a connection to nature through food is a great way to feel close to the natural environment and to other people. Dr Vandana Shiva – involved in the Chipko ‘tree huggers’ movement – says that it is “our duty to grow what we can” as growing is a meaningful, sovereign activity which helps teach us purpose and responsibility.

Many young people, myself included, become overwhelmed when considering all the environmental challenges we face, with an uncertain future as the planet responds to the demands of increased industrialisation and population. Amongst all this turbulence, at a turning point in our lives, it is more important than ever to surround ourselves with impressive young people who encourage and have the ability to bring out the best in us. We must allow ourselves to be inspired by the people who are taking responsibility for the protection of our home and our wild spaces.

There is also something wonderful about being a young person today. We have the opportunities, the means and the vision for change. We have nothing but potential to use our youth, energy and drive to choose a direction which is philanthropic and meaningful. We can make a difference to our future. We can use the power of the law to direct action.

Since joining the John Muir Trust, I have had the opportunity to meet some outstanding young people and to witness our incredible power. There is a tangible energy and optimistic enthusiasm in our support of each other. We have the confidence to take action, to be leaders and to participate and influence in as many ways as we can.

If you are a young person looking for inspiration; go outside, feel the world and get informed. I believe there is a direct correlation between our relationship with nature and our understanding of environmental issues. 

Here’s what has inspired me:
- Listen to podcasts such as ‘Mothers of Invention’
- Get involved in the Good Food Nation Bill by becoming an Ambassador
- Join the 2050 Climate Group’s Young Leaders Development Programme
- Do your own John Muir Award

  • Year of Young People 2018 is a celebration of young people’s achievements and contributions in Scotland.
  • Year of Green Action 2019 is a UK Government campaign that holds children and young people at its heart.