Author Tom Forward
It is easy to dismiss modern day youth as pasty, sofa-bound, energy drink fuelled, gaming addicted and sleep deprived, with little concern other than for evolving thumbs that are better adapted for faster BBM-ing and maintaining a better grip on their console controls or updating their Facebook status from ‘bored’ to ‘OMG am really bored now!’.
However, I have the good fortune to be working with a growing group of young people aged between 12 and 25 who are willing to give up their holiday time, occasional weekends, spare time and even paid work, to get out and learn about the importance of our wildlife and greenspaces and to get grubby improving habitats.
When pressed for an answer as to why they are up for sacrificing the comfort of a sofa, a wide screen and Call of Duty: Black Ops, to get cold and muddy planting a mixed species hedgerow along a field margin, replies are varied from “this is the only exercise I get”, and “not sure really, I just enjoy it” to “it’s nice to feel like you can give something back” and “this is going on my CV”.
Whatever the reason given, the point is that they are coming out and working hard bashing scrub with bow saws and loppers and feeling the buzz of seeing the first adder of the year basking in the sunshine or spotting a roe doe trotting away into the undergrowth. The rangers and guardians of the future of our countryside are skilling up now, and this gives me hope.
Gatwick Greenspace Partnership runs a Wildlife Rangers group for 12-16 year olds every Friday during school holidays and weekly volunteer Youth Rangers group for 16-25 year olds on Wednesdays during term time. To find out more visit www.gatwickgreenspace.org.uk