Working with Dorset Wildlife Trust to help young people have a say

The Brief

Dorset Wildlife Trust is the leading charity dedicated to nature conservation in Dorset. 

The charity’s typical audience is older in age, and so they reached out to Participation People to find a way to engage young people from different backgrounds with their work in a meaningful way that would have benefit both now and in the future. 

Together, Participation People and Dorset Wildlife Trust gathered a team of Young Journalists, recruited, trained and supported by PP, with a brief to share news and views from young people on behalf of Dorset Wildlife Trust. 

These stories would be shared via a range of media channels selected because they are relevant to, and used by, young people.

The biggest challenge the Young Journalists would be briefed with, would be to find ways to make complex ecological issues, such as ocean microplastics, engaging. 


The Young Journalists are made up of eight young people aged 12 – 19 who live, work or study in Dorset – all of whom were trained by PP in journalism skills. 

The group were from a variety of backgrounds, with different lived experiences and they each held a strong interest in learning more about journalism. Nature and wildlife wasn’t so much an initial interest for them but after the project this had changed dramatically.

Each was asked by PP to attend regular online workshops, where they were trained in ethics, law, issues around ‘fake news’, how to conduct an interview, plus developing research techniques. 

Professional journalists and filmmakers gave the Young Journalists master classes to share their experience, allowing young people to quiz them in a mock press conference.

Each young person was supported to create a variety of press materials which would be appealing to a young reader or listener,  increasing awareness, and potentially their interest, in the countryside and wildlife. 

Working as a group, they created interesting blogs and informative articles which were supported by their own photography, to discuss various ecological issues. 

They each also contributed to the scripting, recording and production of a podcast, and set up and actively ran a social media page to promote their work.

This resulted in a huge and varied selection of content and Dorset Wildlife Trust continues to share the Young Journalists work on their website and social media pages.

Project Insight – Dorset Young Journalists discovered that overall, not only do young people care deeply about ecological issues and how these affect their communities, but they are actively looking for ways to engage with more complex issues. 

Young people want to feel part of their communities and part of the solution when it comes to resolving local environmental issues, and through focussing on the preservation of the countryside and local wildlife, they found purpose and unity. 

The Young Journalists learned skills that will benefit them now and in the future thanks to a safe, supportive learning environment – and their creative approach to difficult topics – approaching young people in their own words – achieved brilliant results!


Providing Dorset Young Journalists with the skills and  a platform  to gather and share news and views from young people,, using their words and photography,  empowered them to reach new, younger audiences for Dorset Wildlife Trust. . 

Every blog and article, plus the  Young Journalists’ Podcast, has been successfully published to the Dorset Wildlife Trust  website.

Each of the eight Young Journalists achieved AQA Awards for their journalistic work. They also received well deserved recognition from the Chief Executive of Dorset Wildlife Trust.

As a group, the Young Journalists group stay in regular contact and are eager to work together again on more environmental-based journalism!


Maria Clarke,  Dorset Local Nature Partnership Manager:

“The Young Journalist programme inspired us and helped demonstrate that we need more youth participation in our work.  

We have been considering what more we can do to engage with young people as part of our EDI strategy development.  

The project has also led DWT to partner with Dorset Local Nature Partnership (LNP) to raise funding to run training for a second cohort and we are seeking further funding to work with all the trained Young Journalists to link with a range of LNP partners to gain more experience and enable the young people to share the issues important to them.  

I’d also like to run a youth-led event to bring other young people together to discuss climate change, nature recovery and nature-based well-being and raise awareness of these issues and potentially help develop local solutions.  

I love Participation People’s values of ‘Playful in practice, Serious about solutions’ and the staff are enthusiastic and supportive, bringing out the best in the young people they work with.”


The Dorset Wildlife Trust Young Journalist programme has achieved something that other organisations have aspired to for years; engaging young people in environmental and ecological issues. 

This project has taken complex issues like microplastics in the ocean, the effect of sound pollution on birds and the importance of nature to support good mental health, and presented them in a clear, exciting and engaging way for the target audience of young people. 

The materials created by the Young Journalists have already gained a significant reach which now has the opportunity to grow exponentially as more young people share their work. This included a short film used to support a funding application and articles for the Dorset Wildlife Trust magazine.

The group has worked incredibly hard, entirely virtually, to make decisions usually made in-person in busy newsrooms, to create and produce engaging and informative journalism. 

The work done by the Young Journalists is ground-breaking and will help encourage a whole host of new engagement practices in ecological issues from young people in Dorset, with the charity seeking further funding to run another training course.

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