It has been almost two years since our Youth Board was formed and despite a CHALLENGING couple of years, their ambition and direction has led to the Youth Board hosting their first Youth Symposium here at Chester Zoo.
The event welcomed over 100 young people from across the UK for an inspiring weekend of presentations, discussions and networking.
The symposium was not only an opportunity to celebrate young voices in conservation but to demonstrate the scale in which young people play a crucial role in conservation, from youth governance to youth action.
Working in collaboration, our Youth Board brought together a wealth of creativity, expertise and passion to turn an idea into a truly inspiring platform for young people from across the conservation sector. Our young people were at the heart of the symposium, from the decision-making process at the development stage, right through to the speakers that participated.
“It was such an inspiring weekend focusing on youth conservation action, governance and diversity, and such a refreshing change to see youth at the heart of the event. It was absolutely driven by young people, for young people.”
A Youth Symposium participant
What do we mean by youth governance?
Youth governance is about young people and adults working together to make decisions and taking action to strengthen organisations, communities and society. Our planet, and the actions we take to care for it, affect us all. For such a pressing and important issue we must value and engage with all levels of society, however, young people are often left out of the decision and policymaking processes.
We are committed to embedding young voices across the organisation. Our Youth Board is part of the most senior level of governance within the organisation sitting below the Board of Trustees as one of the advisory committees.
Getting young voices heard…
As young people become stakeholders and change agents in communities and organisations, they bring perspectives, knowledge and relationships that lead to better decisions and actions that are more productive. It also promotes positive youth development, particularly active citizenship such as understanding how decisions are made and how to organise, plan and communicate.
Youth participation is essential, not only because they will be the beneficiaries and the leaders in the future, but also because so many of them already have pivotal roles to play within their communities and lives. We need to hear their voices so that they have a say in the decisions that will affect them.
As we digest the outputs, celebrate the successes of the youth symposium and look ahead to future youth events driven by the youth board, it’s clear to see the huge sense of pride and accomplishment shared by all those involved. Through genuinely engaging young people in higher levels of participation, we have seen these young people empowered to drive forward their ambition and ideas.
“Our first ever Youth Symposium was such an amazing, inspiring, empowering, validating and just all-round BRILLIANT experience! We had an incredible line up of workshops, presentations and discussions delivered by speakers made up of both young conservation professionals and passionate young people just starting out on their journey in the sector.”
Connor, our External Reach Co-Lead, Youth Board.
Connor continues to say:
“After being a visitor of the zoo ever since I was old enough to walk, to be able to be part of organising and hosting an event like this feels like such an overwhelming privilege, and one I am hugely grateful for! It was really encouraging to see how many other conservation organisations are passionate about engaging young people and establishing systems of young governance, like our Youth Board, and to help develop the youth voice across the conservation sector in the future. The whole event was a true celebration of how much power young people have and of how we can make our voices heard to impact real change!”