Thursday 3 March is World Wildlife Day, created by the United Nations to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants.
Protecting the environment is an issue that many young people are passionate about. In a recent survey, 78% of young people said that looking after the environment was important to them, and 81% said they wanted to do more to look after the environment (Natural England, 2021).
So, why not use World Wildlife Day as an opportunity to empower your students to take action?
At Yes Futures, we believe that every individual has a key role to play in protecting the environment, to create a better future for all young people. Below, we share our tips on how you can encourage your students to support their local environment.
1) Start conversations about the environment
The threat of environmental destruction can often feel overwhelming to young people, with a staggering 75% of young people believing that “the future is frightening” due to climate change (Medical News Today, 2021).
But by holding space for conversations in your classroom, students can share their anxieties and, most importantly, identify actions they can take to address them.
The theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day is ‘Recovering key species for ecosystem restoration’, focusing on how we can protect the most endangered species and the wider environment. Make time to talk with your students about endangered species, what is being done to protect them, and what actions you can take as a school community to support wildlife in your local area.
The BBC have produced a series of free resources, adapted for primary and secondary school students, to introduce this topic into your classroom.
2) Volunteer in your local community
Now that you’ve discussed how your students can support their local wildlife, it’s time to take action! Encourage your students to volunteer to support their local environment, either individually, or by organising a school trip.
Volunteering has been proven to have a positive impact on students’ wellbeing, develop their character and learn skills to help them flourish in society; while research has found that 79% of young people felt more confident in themselves after taking part in outdoor activities (Wildlife Trusts, 2019).
Looking for inspiration? On our Play Your Part trips, students volunteer with a local project to learn about the benefits of giving back to their community. Where possible, we try to connect students with opportunities to support their environment, to inspire them to take action to support their local wildlife in the longer term.
3) Support your students to set environmental goals
Goal setting is a key part of our Yes Futures programmes. By breaking down larger goals into small steps, students are better equipped to take action, making their goals seem more achievable.
As a class, brainstorm all the ways you can think of to support your local environment. Then ask each student to decide on one action they will focus on for the next month. Ask them to write this down and put it somewhere they will see it regularly, such as their planner.
At the end of the month, check in with your students. Did they achieve their goal? If not, what could they do to make it more achievable?
By encouraging your students to break their environmental goals down into small steps, they will be more empowered to regularly support their local wildlife.
4) Set environmental goals as a school
Setting environmental goals shouldn’t just be for your students! Speak with your colleagues about what actions you could take to support your local wildlife as a school community.
This blog by Circular Computing shares some great ideas on how you can make your school more sustainable.
5) Continue the conversation
Finally, make sure these conversations continue throughout the year! Try encouraging your students to set a different environmental goal each month. Or why not focus on exploring a different topic each week in tutor time?
Our Play Your Part trips are designed to encourage students to recognise the benefits of giving back to their community and develop key employability skills. For more information, please see our Play Your Part blogs.