A top environmental scholarship programme for budding ecologists is expanding this year to provide opportunities for even more young people.
The Field Studies Council plans to create 80 new Young Darwin Scholars in 2023 to mark its 80th anniversary year.
The annual scholarship programme helps young people aged 16 to 25 to develop their environmental skills and further their understanding of the natural world and potential scholars have until June 4 to apply.
Learning development officer Mollie Clay said: “The Field Studies Council has been running the Young Darwin Scholarship for more than 10 years now, and to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the charity and thanks to increased funding, we are looking forward to welcoming another 80 young people to the programme.
“The scholarship was first introduced at our Preston Montford field centre near Shrewsbury – the birthplace of Charles Darwin – and has proved a big success.
“This year, scholars will start with a residential trip or series of day trips at locations across the UK where they will spend time outdoors practising a wide range of field and identification skills, gain practical observation, planning and recording skills, explore landscapes and meet a number of inspirational speakers and experts.
“After the residential trip or day series, scholars will then have access to career guidance and networking opportunities, receive ongoing mentoring as well as online and in-person training from the council’s specialist staff. It’s a terrific package and a fantastic opportunity for young people to take advantage of.”
The Young Darwin Scholarship is for individuals aged between the ages of 16 and 25 who want to develop and further their understanding of the natural world.
Mollie added: “The scholarship programme not only helps young people to develop their environmental skills and knowledge, but it is also a great place to build long-lasting friendships with other like-minded individuals.
“Previous scholars have really blossomed as the programme has opened their eyes to where their interest and skills around the natural world can take them as a hobby, academic focus and even a career.
“It really is a unique opportunity, particularly for those who can’t easily access environmental opportunities.”
“We are immensely grateful to our sponsors, whose generous donations have made it possible to offer the scholarship to 80 young people this year.”
The programme aims to support young people with their long-term goals, whether that is getting onto the correct pathway for an environmental career, having the skills and knowledge to live a more sustainable lifestyle or meeting other young people who share the same mindset about natural history.
This year, the on-site training will be run at five different locations across the UK. The residential trips will take place at the charity’s own field centres at Preston Montford in Shrewsbury, Nettlecombe Court in Somerset and Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae in Scotland. Day series training will be delivered at sites in London and York.
The scholarship covers 90 per cent of the programme fees, leaving applicants to pay just £45 or £90 depending on which location they visit. Extra support might be available for individuals who would financially struggle to cover the remaining 10 per cent of the fees.