The poetry competition was launched as part of a range of events organised by Earthwatch to help families cope with lockdown and remain connected to nature, including a popular online programme of indoor/outdoor learning activities called Wild Days.
The 4 categories, 4-7; 8-11; 12-16 and schools, were won by 7-year-old Archie; 10-year-old Lucy; 14-year-old Aryan and Edith Moorhouse Primary school, respectively. Each category also had 2 runners up: Honey and Przemek, in the 4-7; Jamie and Aimee, 8-11; Emily and Freddie, 12-16; and Arisaig Primary in Millaig and Middleton Primary in Milton Keynes.
The winning schools each receive a box of practical and poetic gifts including packets of wildflower seeds and mini-nature kits; a copy of ‘Diary of a Naturalist’ by Dara McAnulty, a 16-year-old naturalist, field guidebooks from Princeton University Press’s ‘WildGuide’ series, encouraging families to explore and engage with nature again when the lockdown is over, plus signed copies of Nick Baker’s ‘Baker’s Bug Book’ or Michaela Strachan’s ‘Really Wild Adventures’.
Michaela Strachan, who presented the Really Wild Show was the head judge for the poetry competition, leading a panel of judges which included Nick Baker, Michaela’s co-presenter on the Really Wild Show; Mya-Rose Craig, the world’s top teen birder; and Bella Lack a 17-year-old conservationist and blogger with 150K followers on Twitter.
Recent research commissioned from YouGov by Earthwatch has proved that watching nature can help to calm nerves as 67% of people from a sample of 2,000 people in the UK said watching nature leaves them with a sense of calm, something which is especially important during the covid-19 crisis.
The poetry competition, which invited children to write a poem inspired by nature had hundreds of entries and does seem to have struck a chord. Head judge, Michaela Strachan, said:
“Lockdown has been challenging for many kids, but it's brought out the creative side as well, and this poetry competition has given a way to express that creativity and connection with the natural world.”
Mya-Rose, 18, is an ambassador for Earthwatch’s Wild Days programme and a member of the judging panel. She commented:
“I’m so glad I was able to judge this competition, I had a really lovely time reading them all and it was a genuine challenge to pick my favourites in the end! I could feel how passionate all the writers were about nature through their writing and feel very hopeful about the next generation of young naturalists.”
Mya-Rose was awarded an honorary doctorate from Bristol University for her pioneering work campaigning for greater diversity in conservation and writes her own poetry. She recorded a special video to encourage children to take part in the Earthwatch competition and enjoy nature no matter whether they live in a city, town or tiny village.
Sarah Staunton-Lamb, Earthwatch’s Senior Engagement Manager, said: “Thank you to everyone who took part, children and parents who helped, and please, please keep watching, writing about and caring for our natural world."