John Muir Trust
The John Muir Trust aims to inspire people to connect with, enjoy and care for wild nature. We believe that everyone should have opportunities to enjoy social, economic, cultural, health, environmental and aesthetic benefits that wildness can offer, and to participate directly in nature conservation work.
We do this primarily through our main engagement initiative the John Muir Award. Launched in 1997, the Award was designed to be youth centred, but available to adults and families promoting educational, social and personal development through wild places.
94% of the 350,000 people who achieve their John Muir Award across the UK are under 25.
Four challenges lie at the heart of every John Muir Award – Discover, Explore, Conserve, Share. Participants are encouraged to make a difference and put something back. What, where and how groups and individuals do is decided by the people involved – this helps make actions relevant, accessible and achievable.
The Trust has shown that people of all backgrounds, but especially young people, enjoy and value exploring their relationship with wild places by taking responsibility through social action. Since 2016 the John Muir Trust has pledged to support 100,000 ten to twenty year olds complete a John Muir Award by the end of 2020 – through the #iwill and #iwill4nature campaign.
We’ve found that young people benefit from the challenge and adventure from being in wild places; through increased environmental awareness; knowledge and skills gained; shared experiences with others; opportunities to show compassion and take responsibility for change; and pride in achievement. Our planet improves too – locally, nationally and internationally. Maintaining, improving and restoring wild places is good for the health of our local communities, helps us enjoy and celebrate the wonder of nature (biodiversity), and is essential to living on the planet as if we mean to stay here (sustainability).
Recently we’ve carried out surveys of the organisations who deliver the John Muir Award in Scotland:
- 94% of the organisations surveyed in Scotland told us the John Muir Award helped their participants value wild places
- 82% of young people in East Ayrshire sampled said they enjoyed or greatly enjoyed working towards their John Muir Award [research to be published].
During Year of Young People 2018 the John Muir Trust monitored the amount and type of activity carried out by young people to meet the Conserve Challenge:
This Conserve Audit showed that:
- 29,848 days of social action for nature (209,936 hours)
- Carried out by 19,346 young people
- Valued at £783,500 (based on National Lottery Heritage Fund figures)
- 30% carried out by young people experiencing disadvantage
The Trust also co-designed a nature / outdoors micro-survey with young people that showed that 90% of young people surveyed said that the outdoors makes them feel very happy or happy. Young people’s well-being through nature was also identified through a suite of short films directed, shot and edited by a young person highlighting young people’s views on the outdoors and nature.
The John Muir Trust continues to be committed to listening to and supporting young people benefit from their relationship with wild places and nature. We’re exploring setting up a Junior Ranger programme for young people on and surrounding Trust managed land. We’ve also created dedicated web pages to concentrate young people and nature good practice, these are focused around research and feedback, youth engagement, equality of access, and young people’s stories. We recognise that young people need a connection with wildness, and that our planet needs everyone to care for it.