Why it’s so important to spread awareness to youth

The protection of endangered species is a cause which has always been close to my heart.

RI distinctly remember watching a powerful and emotional documentary a few years ago called Lost Land of the Tiger, in which a team of conservationists undertook an extensive search for tigers in Bhutan. The determination to track these wonderful creatures in the foothills of the Himalayas inspired me to get involved in conservation.

Through a family friend, I was introduced to the wonderful work of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). I was astounded by the bravery and commitment of the organisation, working undercover in some of the harshest environments to protect the natural world from abuse and environmental crime.

Hearing about their inspirational work at first-hand made me determined to support EIA’s fantastic and hard-hitting campaigns.

I’m 15-years-old – conservation is a major issue for my generation, but should be a greater concern than it currently is. I believe that it is extremely important to get my generation particularly involved in environmental conservation as we will be living with the consequences of actions occurring today. We have to be aware about current issues so that we can play our part in protecting our natural world, both now and in the future.

So where better to start helping EIA than in my school?

North London Collegiate School's Year 8 Charity Committee

North London Collegiate School’s Year 8 Charity Committee

With the support of my year-group’s charity committee, we began to organise fundraising events and spread the word about EIA. We held various cake sales and sponsored runs but also, more appropriately, held themed events which proved to be very popular. These included making animal masks at an arts-and-crafts stall, jungle-themed biscuit decoration and an animal-themed non-school uniform day. We managed to raise more than £500 for the charity, but this was not our only aim.

I believe that fundraising must go hand-in-hand with raising awareness for the cause. This means that people will be more willing to support the charity and will hopefully get involved in spreading awareness themselves. One of the best ways to do this is by organising inspirational campaigners to speak in schools. Mary Rice and Alistair Cameron from EIA captivated us with their personal experiences, achievements and goals. The array of spy gadgets made a great impression on us as well as hearing about the dangers of their undercover work. The mixture of stunning wildlife footage and images of horrific destruction made the realities of conservation issues very clear. We were fully inspired by the talk and everyone left feeling more aware and motivated to get involved.

EIA Executive Director Mary Rice

EIA Executive Director Mary Rice

Getting speakers from the charity into schools is one effective way to gain support among youth. Also showing EIA’s conservational documentaries, or those of other groups, in school lessons would successfully raise awareness and concern for these issues.

EIA is also using other means to engage with younger generations, including social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and organising large publicity and fundraising events with musicians, artists and retailers. These are effective means to gain support for the charity, especially – and importantly – among the young people.

I am consistently amazed by the work of EIA and I have great respect for their campaigners. I intend to continue helping and supporting the charity, and I hope to raise much more awareness about environmental concerns among my generation.