Local activism is a crucial part of climate and ecological justice, and in this post we’d like to celebrate the inspirational work of Beenie-Ann, age 10, from Shetland. Beenie-Ann has been working at home, at school, and in her local community to bring about change. After hearing about her projects, we interviewed wildlife hero Beenie-Ann to hear about what she does and why in her own words.

What is your favourite wild place? Why?

The Shell Hole is my favourite wild place because it is full of wildlife, natural beauty and is unharmed. It is calm and peaceful where nature can just be nature. I love to go there because it feels like its own little bubble that takes me away from all the hustle and bustle of the real world.

What have you done to help nature? How did you do it and what are your top tips?

I have done lots of things to help nature. I have done beach cleans, a speech at school and in lockdown me, my sister, and brother made a group in our family about saving the environment and the things we can do to help. I always try to encourage people to Preserve Conserve Rescue (PCR is the name of our group). I have also been doing a personal project at school all about global warming and I presented it to the class. In the summer I started to make a wildlife garden and have used composted leaves and manure from our Shetland Pony, Firelily, to make the soil good.

My top tips are:

  • To help with climate change you don’t need to do something massive to make a difference.
  • Beach clean-ups are fun and not difficult to do.
  • If everyone works together to do their bit, it can make a huge difference to our planet.
  • You can spread the word by talking to your class, colleagues, friends and family about it and the small changes they could make.
  • It’s about being mindful of the things you use and about waste, like turning taps and lights off when you don’t need them.

 Pouring kitchen scraps into a compost heap

You can learn more about composting here

What is important to you? Does this affect your work helping nature?

Things that are important to me are animals, the environment, and all things nature.

Yes, this does affect my work in nature because I think about it every day. I worry that if we don’t make a change some of this could be lost.

What (or who) inspired your project?

Hearing about the effects that climate change has on nature on Newsround really made me stop and think. I love nature and the environment so much I just couldn’t bear to see it slowly getting wrecked.

I am very lucky to stay in Shetland, it is so pretty and full of nature. Karen MacKelvie (RSPB Community Engagement Officer) is a great inspiration to me because of the amazing things she does for the wildlife here in Shetland. I admire her enthusiasm and passion for looking after our planet. Karen is always so positive.

How does your project make you feel?

When I do my project, it makes me feel quite proud that I am trying my best to make a difference. I also feel hopeful that soon there will be a change. Sometimes when I think about the reason for my project, I might feel a little sad because if we tried to keep our planet healthy in the first place we wouldn’t have to try and get people to listen. When I see things growing and wild birds and animals living freely then I feel happy.

What are your worries and hopes for the future?

My worry for the future is that grown-ups don’t take notice of the young people’s efforts or of the changes that need to be happening.

My hope for the future is that other young people like me are inspired to try their hardest to help the environment. I’m also hopeful that step by step our planets health becomes increasingly stronger,

‘If we stand in this together we can and will make a difference!’

Who do you think can save nature? What would you like to say to them?

It is everybody’s responsibility to save nature. I think that the young people need to be listened to and that the grown-ups that are in charge of big decisions do what they need to do to save nature. There are so many knowledgeable and keen minds that can come together and make a difference. It’s up to our generation, and I’m confident we can save our planet and the nature on it!

What I would say to all the young people out there that have a big passion for the planet and keeping it safe is:

“Believe in yourself. You can achieve anything you want to achieve no matter how hard it is; we can always try our best. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you. Together we can make the impossible possible, if we all lay a brick we can build our future.”

What do you think stops people being closer to nature? Do you think it is easier or harder for young people to change things? Why?

I think that the reason some people aren’t so close to nature is because they don’t think they can make a difference, when I know they can if they try. I also think it could be because they look up to our leaders and big names to make the changes, but our leaders need us! Young people need grown-ups to work with them. Their worries and ideas need to be taken seriously and be understood alongside the ideas of the grown-ups. I think if young people felt valued in what they were saying then it would help big changes to be made.

Litter washed up on a beach

You can learn more about doing a beach clean here