Young people are often under-represented in nature and the conservation sector and many have shared experiences of discrimination in nature activity due to their age. Eden reports on why this is an issue, while shedding light on what organisations can do to help.

I want to tell the story if ageism, and how it affect teens and young adults in nature. Ageism is discrimination against people or individuals on the basis of their age, and it can be casual or systemic. Usually, ageism is talked about towards older people but today I'm go to talk about it towards teens and young adults in nature.

Representation of young people in nature is really important, because if other young people aren't going volunteering then they may feel left

Free time is needed to be out in nature, however most young people are either studying or working. Any time that is outside of this is very precious to young people - it can also be seen as a waste of time if they aren't working to better their lives, because of poverty rates. Opposite to this, many retirees have a lot of free time on their hands and they have the money to go out into nature

This has been shown in demographics of volunteers, people age 65 to 74 are the age group most likely to volunteer on a regular basis, and  participation levels of young people aged 16 to 24 have declined from previous years, according to NCVO (2019).

When young people do go out volunteering in nature, many of them still left out especially during breaks, because of their age of other volunteers. They feel like they're not being included in discussions or that they may not be as committed as other people.

Representation of young people in nature is really important, because if other young people aren't going volunteering then they may feel left out when there's just older people there and they may not want to come again. Then they will tell their friends and their friends of friends and young people wont be out in nature. Also stereotypes of young people in nature don't cast the best light.

So how do we solve this issue of ageism against young people in nature?

Firstly representation and marketing is really good way to encourage young people to come into nature - if they see themselves represented by other people in nature then young people will want to go out into the world too. Secondly we can start bringing generations together, teaching the people that are already out volunteering about young people so they can welcome them in and find things that established volunteers and new volunteers both enjoy. Speaking of volunteering, if you organise it for the weekend instead of on weekdays, then a diverse range of people can attend. Whether they would have been studying, working, or looking after children beforehand, it'll be a better experience for all.

This piece was created by Eden Plummer on the Keeping It Wild Traineeship with London Wildlife Trust. The traineeship is one strand of the Keeping It Wild ProjectThis project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and this particular activity strand was supported by Tallow Chandlers.

Banner image taken by Courtney, during Headliners media training on the Keeping It Wild Social Action Project.