People of all backgrounds, but especially young people, enjoy and value exploring their relationship with wild places by taking responsibility through social action. They benefit from the challenge and adventure of being in wild places: by increasing their environmental awareness; by increasing their knowledge and skills; by sharing the experience with others; by having opportunities to show compassion and take responsibility for change – and take pride in their achievement.
Our planet improves too – locally, nationally and internationally. Maintaining, improving and restoring wild places is good for the health of our local communities. It 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).
The John Muir Trust aims to inspire people to connect with, enjoy and care for wild nature. We believe everyone should have opportunities to enjoy the social, economic, cultural, health, environmental and aesthetic benefits of wilderness, and to take part directly in nature conservation work.
We do this primarily through the John Muir Award. Launched in 1997, the Award is youth-centred, but available to adults and families promoting educational, social and personal development through wild places. We encourage participants to make a difference and put something back, but they decide for themselves what they do, and where and how they do it. This helps make actions relevant, accessible and achievable.
350,000 people have achieved their John Muir Award – 94% of them are under 25. Since 2016 we’ve pledged to support 100,000 ten-to-twenty year olds to complete a John Muir Award by the end of 2020 – this through the #iwill and #iwill4nature campaign.
We measure the impact of the award in several ways. Recently, we surveyed the organisations who deliver the John Muir Award in Scotland:
- 94% of those in Scotland told us the John Muir Award helped their participants value wild places
- 82% of young people surveyed in East Ayrshire said they enjoyed or greatly enjoyed working towards their John Muir Award [research to be published].
During Year of Young People 2018, we monitored the amount and type of actions young people took to meet the Conserve Challenge. With young people, we also co-designed a nature / outdoors micro-survey. 90% of the young people surveyed said that the outdoors makes them feel very happy or happy.
A suite of short films we commissioned – directed, shot and edited by a young person – has also highlighted young people’s wellbeing through nature, and given them a platform for their views.
We’re always looking for ways to embed youth social action in our work. 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 for young people and nature good practice. These focus on research and feedback, youth engagement, equality of access, and young people’s stories.