Connecting with Laura's Research

Last summer I started my dissertation research in which I endeavoured to learn how environmental education affects young people’s connection to nature and how this connection to nature correlates with attitudinal and behavioural changes. WildAid have been absolutely instrumental in my ability to do this and having almost come to the end of my data collection I would like to this opportunity to report on my progress.

I have worked with WildAid on 4 occasions, at Carr Hill High School, Kincraig Primary School and with both level 1 and level 2 animal studies students at Myerscough College. Charlie has put together some absolutely brilliant sessions, covering a range of topics, all with conservation and wildlife welfare underpinnings which was absolutely imperative for my research. As ever, he did an amazing job at engaging the young people who have ranged from 10-23 years old.

Having had a preliminary look at some of the data collected from across these sessions, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with children using adjectives such as ‘awesome’, ‘amazing’, ‘interesting’ and ‘educational’ (to list a mere few) to describe the sessions. I have already seen an increase in the connection to nature scores in the samples that I have looked over which is such an achievement. It has been fantastic seeing all these children so engaged and so inspired and then having it reaffirmed with actual qualitative and quantitative data. I knew the work that WildAid was doing was special and had such positive effects and important ramifications for our younger generations but being able to quantify it via this research has been an absolute privilege and I am very grateful to have been allowed this opportunity. I sincerely hope it will make a difference and have some benefit in the long term for both WildAid and anybody else involved in environmental education.

As a result of these sessions, lots of the children have changed their attitudes towards nature and in a way towards themselves, having more belief in the fact that what they do can make a difference and this is so vital for the future protection of the planet. Children of all ages need to know that they can make a difference but first and foremost they need to be inspired to care enough to do so and this is what WildAid is so good at doing. They have also increased how much they care about nature and their knowledge of nature as well as revealing that the way feel about nature has changed since their WildAid session. Perhaps most importantly, almost all of the children (of the data I have looked over) identified things that they can do to help the environment for example recycling or donating to wildlife charities – one if particular even said “donating to WildAid!”, so if nothing else, you have a future sponsor!

It has been such a privilege working with WildAid as well as all the young people I have met along the way. I have especially loved hearing all their animal stories and watching them getting really into conservation and welfare as it makes me feel very optimistic for the future of the planet. Who knows, maybe some of these kids will grow up to be the next Jane Goodall or David Attenborough! Or if not then perhaps they’ll simply recycle more, build homes for nature in their gardens and make the little changes that will make a big difference to the health of our planet and all the lives it contains.

WildAid comments:  Thank you so much for your really great article. We are privileged to have your enthusiasm and support for the work we do. We can't wish you more than the best of luck as your research draws to a close. You are an inspration for many young people.

Laura ?

"It's all about encouraging people to participate and learn about the natural world through hands on discovery."

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