In March, we heard from the International Otter Survival Fund’s (IOSF) award winner John, who won an IOSF Otter Oscar Award in recognition of his amazing wildlife photography.  To help wildlife and nature in his local community, John is also a member of his local Team Otter group organised by IOSF. We talked to Ben Yoxon, IOSF’s Education Officer and Broadford’s Team Otter leader about these groups and why they are so important, not only to nature but also to the young people involved.

IOSF’s Team Otter Programme is focused on reconnecting children with nature and igniting a passion that will last a lifetime. Naturally, we use otters as a mascot but encourage clubs to be passionate about all wildlife and the natural world.

Team Otter logo

We started clubs around the world and always want to encourage more nature lovers to start more clubs if they can. IOSF wants to get as many children involved and start making a difference. The clubs can show kids that they are part of something far bigger and understand that the steps they are taking ARE making a difference.  Having clubs globally helps us understand many different factors when it comes to the environment, such as how different aspects can affect different areas. Furthermore, they have the opportunity to link with one another and share what they are doing through IOSF’s platform. Our clubs can be found in countries such as Guyana, Bangladesh, Nepal, Laos and Montenegro and we have plans to start more clubs, in more countries, such as Malaysia, Uganda and Lesotho!

It has been well documented of late the impact that we are having on our natural world and Broadford’s Team Otter on the Isle of Skye is doing their bit to reverse that. The club, run by myself, are focusing on helping the wildlife and nature around them. We use our meetings to learn about a wide range of topics such as animals and their special traits, the wildlife we have in Scotland, steps we can take to help and we are also pro-active to help the wildlife around us. Obviously, given restrictions, things have been altered lately but when we can we have taken the opportunity to take to the streets and beaches and clean up our area. The children are passionate about this and preventing litter, such as plastics, entering our habitats, such as oceans. During the summer lockdown, some of the kids took it on themselves to clean up the area around their houses – so their passion continues.

The members of Team Otter after a litter pick

We are still working towards cleaning the area but also focusing on prevention. We are in the process of making posters to put around popular walks to stop people needlessly dropping litter and trying to prevent the problem rather than solve it.

I took the chance to ask Krista Nicolson, who is part of the Team Otter club in Broadford, what she thought about being part of Team Otter. Krista said that she “likes being able to hang out with her friends while being able to help the environment and wildlife at the same time.”

The children really are passionate about making a difference and want to encourage you to join them in helping.

It is so important to get children to engage with nature, seed new ecologists and let tomorrow’s decision makers have the environment at the forefront of their mind.

If you’re interested in starting a Team Otter Club in your area contact Ben Yoxon, IOSF’s Education Officer at ben@otter.org and together, we can make a difference. Find out what Team Otter have been getting up to on their blog: http://www.loveotters.org/411111384!

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