|Youth participants in the World Congress and their mothers pictured on a birding trip.|
By Stephanie Pineau
The excitement was palpable at this year’s BirdLife International World Congress. Thursday saw the start of a variety of workshops with topics ranging from renewable energy to conservation issues. However, one workshop stands out in its originality in terms of topic and method used to convey the message contain therein. ‘A programme for connecting youth to nature’: the evidence is in, connection to nature is beneficial physically, mentally, and emotionally for all of us, including youth.
That which added the greatest depth, inspiration, uniqueness, and long lasting motivation from this workshop however, was the heartfelt and insightful presentations from two youth.
|Carlos Barbery gives a presentation at the Congress.|
The second powerfully conveyed message came from Tina Lin, a 12 year who has now been birding for only a couple of years. Her charming calm presence on stage was clearly a force of inspiration to the hearts and minds of all delegates in attendance. Among other things, Tina has translated information from the RRSPB for engaging children in bird watching, for youth in China. While this in itself is immensely impressive, she also took to the stage at the fundraising Gala with guests such as Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado of Japan in attendance to discuss youth and nature with former CEO of Goldman Sachs, and Secretary of the Treasurer under President George W. Bush, Henry Paulson. The clarity with which she spoke is suggestive of the fact that we may be overlooking valuable sources of insight by excluding youth from our decision making processes.
|Tina Lin gives speaks to the audience at the Congress' youth workshop.|
Fortunately, the Congress was not all work for our youth presenters. Together with their mothers and some expert birders (of which Carlos is certainly one), they had the opportunity to engage in one of their favourite pastimes. As the sun came up over lac du soleil in Gatineau Park they encountered a wide range of species including Yellow Warblers, Pine Warblers, Swamp Sparrow, Wood Ducks, a Green Heron, a Belted Kingfisher, and many more species. And as we see from these youth, they not only speak about the importance of engaging with nature in enclosed spaces, but actively seek out nature with all the enthusiasm and wonder (plus a massive amount of knowledge) that we would expect and hope to see in the youth of today.