Supporting community initiatives that increase youth interest, engagement and skills in invasive species management.
Young people are under-represented in invasive species management, yet they have much to offer by way of passion and interest in improving our landscapes.
Land management is an inter-generational issue, and managing pests and weeds is a crucial part of enhancing our agricultural and natural landscapes. It is important that diverse voices and interests are part of the conversation about how to address the challenge of invasive species.
The Weeds and Rabbits Project established its youth engagement grant program in 2019 to support youth-friendly initiatives with a focus on invasive pest and weed issues in Victoria.
Find out more about the grant projects.
Why are young people missing?
From our recent research and survey on youth engagement in invasive species management in Victoria, we know some of the barriers to youth participation include:
- Limited awareness of the issue and opportunities
- No clear pathways to participate
- Young people do not identify as a contributor.
Why engage young people?
We also know that boosting youth engagement has mutual benefits for existing groups and for young people:
- Succession planning for established groups
- Knowledge sharing across generations
- Connecting young people with their community and their landscape
- Providing skills, confidence and career pathways for young people
- Mentoring and networking opportunities for young people
- New ideas and perspectives on the invasive species challenge
Top tips for engaging young people
We know there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to better youth engagement, but through our research and engagement we’ve established a few recommendations for youth-friendly project planning:
- Think about what young people in your community might be seeking and plan accordingly – e.g. new skills, career development, networking, adventure
- Target your communications– does your messaging and branding appeal to young people?
- Design youth-centric projects – engage young people in project planning and consider how the project can empower them to influence change.
- Use storytelling as an engagement tool – e.g. what made you passionate about this work? What do you love about this area? What is the difference we can make?
- Think about the skills that young people can bring to support and complement your project – be open to fresh perspectives and approaches.
Inspiration and ideas
There’s lots of projects underway that are boosting youth participation in environmental initiatives. If you’re looking for a starting point for your invasive species work, here’s just a few projects that have been proposed.
For some established initiatives:
- Western Landcare Youth Network
- Weed mapping and mountain biking
- Youth engagement in Landcare – case studies
Some other things to consider
To strengthen your project, you may like to consider some of the following:
- Collaborate with other groups and organisations
- Seek co-funding from other groups and organisations
- Involve young people in the design, planning or running of the project
- Incorporate landscape-scale, integrated approaches to invasive species management
- Develop a communications strategy
- Engage local traditional owner groups
- Engage participants from disadvantaged or marginalised groups
- Consider how your project could be replicated or extended to other communities.