Alexandra King from the Isle of Man is a new British Trust for Ornithology Youth Representative. She tells us more about herself and the exciting role.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m a 22-year-old student from the Isle of Man, and am currently studying for a Masters by Research in Ecology at Lancaster University, looking at the effects of disturbance on waders on the Island. It’s a fantastic opportunity to spend more time outdoors along the Manx coastline.
When and how did you become interested in birds?
While I have always been interested in the natural world, I didn’t become interested in birds specifically until I saw my first Wigeon while on a walk during lockdown. This sparked a new hobby, which I then put to use in my undergraduate dissertation, where I focused on freshwater birds and became wholly engrossed in birding.
Where did you see the role of BTO Youth Representative for the Isle of Man advertised?
It was suggested to me by the wonderful staff at Manx BirdLife, who I’ve spent the last year volunteering with on several of their projects. I was very excited to get the position, and to meet other like-minded young people interested in wildlife education and birds.
What does the role involve?
Our role as BTO Youth Representatives is to plan and put on events focused towards people aged 25 and under to get them involved in nature and birding. There are BTO youth reps across the UK, and everyone has different interests and approaches towards the kind of events they do. My focus is on coastal and freshwater birds and finding fun and interesting ways to learn about them. I also want to introduce young people to nature through art and creativity.
Do you have specific aims and ambitions?
If just one person leaves an event interested in birding in any capacity; whether that is wanting to go outside more, to learn more about birds and nature, or to take part in more events, then that would be a great outcome. BTO Youths’ focus is on quality rather than quantity, and to make birding accessible and open to all.
Will you connect with other BTO Youth Representatives?
I’ve already been very fortunate to spend a weekend with BTO Youth and my fellow Youth reps at RSPB Sherwood Forest. It was fantastic to meet other young people from across the UK with the same interests and I hope to be able to collaborate on events with them in the future.
Why should young people learn about and care for bird life?
Young people are the future of conservation, and I’d like to inspire more young scientists, conservationists and those who are simply passionate about wildlife. While birds are vital for our ecosystems, and understanding how to interact with them consciously and respectfully is important, they are also a source of joy and wonder, and birdwatching provides a lovely break from the rush of daily life.