Inspirational Youth: Dara McAnulty, Shimna Integrated College

Dara McAnulty is a 14-year-old naturalist, conservationist and activist living in Northern Ireland. He is the author of youngfermanaghnaturalist.com and the recipient of the BBC Springwatch ‘Unsprung Hero’, Birdwatch Magazine ‘Local Hero’ and the Animal Hero ‘Young Animal Hero’ awards. He is writing his first book ‘The Diary of a Young Naturalist’ which will be published by Little Toller Books in Spring 2020.

“I have always been fascinated by wildlife and wild places, as a crawling baby, a curious toddler and a questioning young child. This fascination has more recently led to activism and focused action against the declines our wildlife is facing. Two years ago, I started writing a blog, sharing my wonder, concern and positive action. Since then, I have spoken at conferences, events and have been featured in documentaries and TV series’.

I have been passionate about birds of prey since I was 4 years old; recently I walked thirty miles, in the middle of winter and raised £6,000 to fund a project, which will help them against persecution. The money I raised will satellite tag Buzzards, Red Kites and Hen Harriers – all of which are being illegally killed in the UK. The project called ‘Hawk Eyes’ will involve my local community, including young people. Anyone can do this. If you have a passion and a strong will, we can all make a difference to what we love.

Young people need to stand up for what they believe in and fight for our planet.  There is so much we can do. Open our eyes to the wonders of nature, learn about species and the challenges they face. Make more ethical choices in our food, cosmetics and household items. Reduce the amount of plastic we use and educate others about all the challenges we are facing – the biggest of which, is climate change.

I am autistic, and part of my character is determination.  We don’t give up and are very focused on our passions. My passion is fighting for nature and I won’t ever give up. I ask you to join me and fight too; because we need as many young people as possible joining forces for collective good. The planet is our life support system, when it doesn’t properly function, neither do we. It’s so important to come together, for good.

Recently, at The Animal Hero Awards, I had the huge privilege to meet Dr Jane Goodall, we were both awarded for our work there – it was a tremendous honour and one of the best moments of my life. Dr Goodall is one of my heroes and we should all help her, come together and make a difference. Even if your actions seem insignificant; doing something means you are a part of change. A part of the solution. Positive action through Roots & Shoots is an amazingly powerful way to make a valuable contribution, it is such a brilliant way to engage children and teachers. I am very much looking forward to creating meaningful action through my own Roots & Shoots group at school.

Be a part of change. A part of the solution.”

Dara McAnulty

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