BBC Wildlife partners with new youth nature writing competition

To encourage children and young adults to connect with nature, a new nature writing competition has been launched.

Mother and son writing. © Roy Mehta/Getty

Nature on your Doorstep is a new youth nature writing competition created by Lucy McRobert, the author of 365 Days Wild.

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The aim is to encourage kids to connect with the nature right outside their homes – up in the sky, on their streets, in their gardens, from their windows – during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s undeniable – life has changed. As we all re-evaluate the things that really matter to us, many people are treasuring the natural world and wild experiences more than ever,” explains McRobert.

“What’s more, those experiences are now taking place much closer to home; we are all realising the true importance of nature on our doorsteps. This is true for children as much as adults. Personally, I wanted to do something positive and a nature writing competition seemed perfect. We’re helping their parents, too, by giving their kids a focus, a challenge and stretching their imaginations – and hopefully benefiting their English lessons.”

Teenage girl writing. © Getty
Teenage girl writing. © Getty

Judged by some of the top nature writers and wildlife champions in the country, the competition is split into three age categories: 4-6, 7-12, and 13-17.

Children and young adults entering the competition need to write a short story on nature that they can see from their home.

A number of prizes are being offered by the judges and by partners, and the winning entries will be published in BBC Wildlife.

The Spring issue of BBC Wildlife
The Spring issue of BBC Wildlife

“We’re thrilled that BBC Wildlife is able to support this fabulous initiative, I’m a great believer in the power of stories to inspire us, to offer an escape, and to lift us when we need it most,” says BBC Wildlife editor Paul McGuinness.

“And as a parent during this tough time, I know just how important it is for our children to stay connected to nature. We’re really excited that the winning entries will appear in BBC Wildlife – we’ll be the first to publish the best young nature writers the country has to offer. What could be better?”

Full details on how to enter can be found on Lucy McRobert’s website.

The closing date for entries is 23.59 on 1 May 2020, and is open to UK entrants. Overseas entrants can also enter, but they will not be eligible to win any prizes.

“I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received from some brilliant and inspiring judges who represent a range of backgrounds, styles and who each bring something different to the table,” says McRobert. “We’ve tried to make this competition as inclusive as possible and to have the support of sponsors, like BBC Wildlife, is incredible. We can’t wait to read the entries!”

The judges of the competition:

Lucy McRobert is a wildlife storyteller and author 365 Days Wild. She is a columnist for Birdwatch magazine and has written for BBC Wildlife, Bird Watching, and the acclaimed Seasons. Passionate about encouraging the next generation of nature conservationists, she co-founded the youth nature network, A Focus On Nature.

Paul McGuinness is the editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine. A lifelong passion for nature has taken him from the Arctic to the Amazon, but these days he’s at his happiest sharing his love of all things wild with his six-year-old son at home in Somerset.

Jini Reddy is an author and journalist. Her new book Wanderland is due out at the end of April. Her first, Wild Times, was published in 2016. Jini has a passion for writing on travel, (more eco-spiritual) nature and life, generally and has written for The GuardianIndependent, National Geographic Traveller, and BBC Wildlife and many other publications.

Stephen Moss is a BAFTA award-winning television producer and is one of the UK’s leading nature writers, and his latest book, The Accidental Countryside: Hidden Havens for Britain’s Wildlife is out now. He is also a regular contributor to BBC Wildlife and other magazines.

Tiffany Francis-Baker is a nature writer and illustrator from the South Downs. Her third book Dark Skies was published in 2019, and she was also Writer-in-Residence for the Forestry Commission’s centenary year. She has written for a number of magazines including In The Moment, Project Calm and BBC Wildlife.

Judy Ling Wong is a painter, poet and environmental activist. For many years, Judy invested her energies into changing the world, working as Director of the charity Black Environment Network. In 2000, Judy was honoured with an OBE for pioneering ethnic minority environmental participation, and in 2007 a CBE followed, for services to heritage.

Hugh Warwick is an ecologist and author with a particular interest in hedgehogs. While he has written three books about this species, his journalistic work and other books have covered a wide range of wildlife and environmental issues, and he is a regular contributor to BBC Wildlife.

Mya-Rose Craig is a prominent British Bangladeshi naturalist, passionate about birds and conservation, whilst respecting indigenous peoples. She is the youngest person to see half the worlds’ birds and writes Birdgirl. As President of Black2Nature, she is the youngest awarded an honorary Doctorate, fighting for access to nature for minority ethnic children, organising nature camps and conferences.

More information on each of the judges can be found here.

Prizes for the competition

The winning images will be published in BBC Wildlife.

Category – Age 13-17

Winner

  • BBC Wildlife subscription for one year
  • Opticron Savanna 8×23 binoculars
  • RSPB Experience Day – a tailored day for you to experience birds like never before and develop your own personal interests with the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, including travel and food
  • Signed copy of Dark Skies by Tiffany Francis & bookmarks

Runner up

  • Signed copy of 365 Days Wild by Lucy McRobert

Category – Age 7-12

Winner

  • Opticron Savanna 8×23 binoculars
  • 25 x Opticron Wildlife Trust branded 8×21 compact binoculars for your school class (if you are home-schooled, we will work with you to find the best use of your prize)
  • Signed copy of Food You Can Forage by Tiffany Francis & bookmarks

Runner Up

  • Bear Nibbles hamper
  • Signed copy of 365 Days Wild by Lucy McRobert

Category – Age 4 – 6

Winner

  • Opticron Savanna binoculars
  • Bear Nibbles hamper
  • ‘Life in the Hedgerow’ print by Tiffany Francis and bookmarks

Runner up

  • Bear Nibbles hamper
  • Signed copy of 365 Days Wild by Lucy McRobert

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Main image: Mother and son writing. © Roy Mehta/Getty