Thursday, October 28, 2021
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Randalstown young farmers go green with top eco award

YOUNG people from Randalstown Young Farmers’ Club were celebrating with Ulster Wildlife when they received a Green Flag Eco Club Award from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

Since November 2018, the young farmers have been busy greening their club and the local area, working their way through the three levels of the Eco Club Award scheme – Bronze, Silver and Green – with support from Ulster Wildlife’s Grassroots Challenge youth programme.

Club members focussed their actions on biodiversity, litter and waste, and healthy living. They designed an eco code for their club, as well as taking action on water and energy use.

Elizabeth Adair, a leading light in Randalstown YFC’s achievement, said: “We are delighted to receive this Eco Club Green Flag Award. This achievement comes following the hard work and commitment of members during a challenging year.

“It has been a great opportunity to be involved with the Grassroots programme. The Eco Club Awards have educated members on important environmental issues and gave them the opportunity to develop new skills.

“The club would like to thank the team at Ulster Wildlife for their support and guidance throughout the project.”

Presenting the award, Charlene McKeown, environmental education manager from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: ‘We are extremely proud to be awarding this prestigious Eco Club Green Flag to Randalstown YFC. They are amongst some of the first to receive this top-level award in Northern Ireland.

“The hard work and dedication of the young people involved in promoting a sustainable green future has been and continues to be outstanding. We hope to see many more clubs follow in their footsteps as they lead the way on this new and exciting journey towards a green recovery.”

David Sterling, board member of Ulster Wildlife, and Michael Reid, CEO of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, were also on hand to meet representatives from Randalstown YFC, including Club Leader Jack Johnston, who hosted the presentation of the Green Flag at his home farm, and fellow committee member Rachel McNeilly.

David Sterling said: “A huge congratulations to Randalstown – they should be so proud of themselves. Helping young people make a difference to their local environment is what Ulster Wildlife’s Grassroots Challenge is all about, so it is fantastic to see so many young people with the drive, energy and passion step up and change things for the better.

“Every generation has what it takes to create real positive change. It is simply a matter of having the confidence and support to do so and we hope to encourage thousands more young people to take action for nature.”

Orlagh McNeill, Ulster Wildlife Project Officer, said: “It has been a pleasure to support Randalstown Young Farmers in their eco-club journey and it has been great to see how their work has grown and developed through their bronze, silver and green awards.

“Their commitment to improve their local environment and their community action is inspiring.”

Over the past five years more than 8,000 young people, from Young Farmers’ Clubs, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award groups and special schools, have rolled up their sleeves to help nature thrive through Ulster Wildlife’s Grassroots Challenge.

From making homes for birds and hedgehogs, to planting trees and transforming local spaces into vital wildlife havens, the young people have unleashed their passion, creativity and potential to make a real difference to their environment and community around them.

The Grassroots Challenge is part of Our Bright Future, a programme of 31 projects across the UK co-ordinated by the Wildlife Trusts and funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

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