RSPB youth groups celebrate 80 years of connecting with nature 

Our youth groups have nurtured many a child’s love of birds and the natural world. With 2023 marking their 80th anniversary, we take a look at why they are still going strong today!

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A black and white photograph showing a group of children holding signs in the street.
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Celebrating a milestone

Wildlife spotting, autumnal craft, cake-baking, and den-building are just a few of the ways children across the UK have been celebrating a milestone anniversary this month.  

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the start of RSPB youth groups, and children in youth groups from Portsmouth to Edinburgh, and Swansea to Essex, and beyond, have been marking the momentous milestone.   

Inspiring young people

RSPB youth groups first began in 1943, then known as the Junior Bird Recorder’s Club, with membership costing one shilling (12p) a year. The club gave 14- to 17-year-olds the chance to enjoy birdwatching in their local area and had 550 members. 

Now the RSPB has different youth groups for children aged five to eight, eight to 12 and 13-18-year-olds, all with the aim of inspiring and connecting children to nature in a broader sense.   

A black and white photograph of a group of children from Wigan using binoculars in a field.

A broad range of activities

Groups usually meet monthly, to learn about, and take part in, nature-based activities. This can include anything from pond-dipping, minibeast hunting, wildlife surveys, beach cleans and tree planting, to creating and maintaining habitats, campaigning and event planning.  

Jenny Hackland, the RSPB’s Education, Families and Youth Manager, explains the benefits of connecting young people to nature:  

“Our early experiences with wildlife and the outdoors are so powerful in helping build a lifelong connection with the natural world, as well as having proven benefits for children’s emotional wellbeing, physical health, education and social skills. 

 “Our youth groups aim to connect children to nature in a fun and informal way, which will in turn inspire and empower them to become advocates for nature, both now and in the future.”

A black and white photograph of a group of young boys in shorts planting a 'nature reserve, no trespassing' sign in a field.

Looking to the future 

New youth group members are always welcome, and new leaders are now being sought to help run the groups, or set up new groups, as Jenny explains: “Our amazing team of volunteers are central to helping us run youth groups and give children of all ages the chance to enjoy nature.  

“To now be celebrating 80 years of RSPB youth groups is an amazing milestone, and we are so grateful to all our passionate and dedicated leaders who voluntarily run groups, as well as all our children and teenagers who are members.  

“Now we are appealing for more volunteers to join our youth groups, or to set up new groups, to provide even more young people with these amazing opportunities to explore, enjoy and help protect the natural world.”  

A black and white photograph of Yorkshire children who have built a wooden bird box.

How to get involved

RSPB youth groups are led and delivered by a team of skilled adult and youth volunteers, who are recruited safely by the RSPB and given regular training to grow their knowledge, skills and experience.    

To find out more about supporting or joining an RSPB youth group in your area visit here, email us, or visit @RSPBYouthGroups on Facebook. 

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