This is part of a youth takeover: we asked our under 25 staff and volunteers to share their stories with us in the run up to the climate strikes, because we want to put their voices front and centre. They are raw, real and they're helping RSPB get with the times - challenging us to think differently - and we love it. Between  16th - 20th October you will see a new story each day. Enjoy!

After a 6-month internship last summer, I am now employed by the RSPB, doing something I love in a place that is healing me - by Sydney Henderson...

I have moved from my parent's street-slotted, garden-allocated house in West London to the North of Scotland. After a 6-month internship last summer, I am now employed by the RSPB, doing something I love in a place that is healing me. Growing up in London and on anti-depressants, I felt tiny, insignificant and powerless in the climate crisis.  Now I live surrounded by nature and empowered by a passion that is shared with those around me.

A woman in the wild

I slowly explore the hills and lochs near my house, trying to shake off the former creeping sense of 'Trespassers will be prosecuted!'. "I have lots of experience in hill walking and wild swimming" - I write on my CV, but always with my father. Woman are not encouraged to adventure. Our periods attract bears.

Now I am alone, a woman in the wild. At the summit, I lie on the moss and breath in the smell of damp wet earth, imagining golden spores travelling through my nose into my lungs and lifting me, buoyant into the cold wet cloud. Being so close to nature makes my heart hurt with the burden of caring for it.

Connecting with nature as a young woman

My first early solo adventure, I carefully google walks, and finger-trace, fact-check, follow-them. Heart races in case of getting lost, or breaking my ankle, or bears, or men yelling at me with: "What are you doing here!?". Soon my confidence grows. I begin to roam the land, my battered walking boots let water in with every step and my feet are wrinkled and pale as petals by the end of the day.

I swam naked in a loch (a cliché I know) but the black water felt like silk, and I couldn't pinpoint where my body ended in its numb, lapping shores. I am addicted to the rhythm of my body projecting itself under its own steam. My focus is not speed and distance, but sensation driven. I'm not saying this is a better method, but it is my own and a purposeful reaction against the 'typically male' mindset of value only coming from ownership - you don't need to 'bag' a Munro to experience one.

My choice of news

The deep peat, which creaks under my feet, and the water-swollen Sphagnum moss are not interested in me as I stomp along. This is how I like it. I close my eyes and hear the skylarks, buoying up and up and up, their full total generation of noise not getting any quieter. My generation is not getting any quieter either.

A young woman in 2019, I feel the hope and power of my generation propelling me onwards. My social media feeds are full of young human beings of all nationalities and backgrounds inspiring me with their actions and words. This is my choice of news outlet and I can ignore the generic white male white noise that fills mainstream media. I have been empowered by my femininity and my youth (both attributes which the status quo snort at) to act. And act I shall, for youth and for the natural world.

Author: Sydney Henderson, Flows to the Future Project Officer, Scotland

Make sure you go to your local climate strike this Friday, 20th September. Go to www.ukscn.org to find your local action.

Anonymous