Ballywalter YFC kicks off the Ulster Wildlife Grassroots Challenge

Members from Ballywalter YFC are pictured with the Minister for Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs Michelle McIlveen MLA at the recent launch of the Grassroots Challenge project. Picture: Brian Morrison

Members from Ballywalter YFC are pictured with the Minister for Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs Michelle McIlveen MLA at the recent launch of the Grassroots Challenge project. Picture: Brian Morrison

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The Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster has recently embarked on an exciting youth empowerment project that will bring the great outdoors to life through the Ulster Wildlife’s Grassroots Challenge project.

From transforming neglected local spaces into havens for wildlife and people, to inspiring adults and children alike with nature through events and surveys in their neighbourhoods, the Grassroots Challenge was created to unleash the potential of young people through Young Farmers’ Clubs, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and special schools.

Ballywalter Young Farmers’ Club were the first to take up the challenge and recently welcomed the Grassroots Challenge project officers, Shona and Andrew to their club night to find out a little bit more about the project.

Members listened to a presentation which included learning about red squirrels and got to test their environmental knowledge with a quiz.

The members then split themselves up into small groups and had a brainstorming session on fun projects they would like to complete in their local area.

Each group came up with great ideas such as planting trees and organising a beach clean-up.

Shona will work with the club members to further develop these ideas over the upcoming weeks and see them come to life.

The teams then got stuck into building red squirrel feeders which saw them sanding, hammering and stapling.

The six completed red squirrel feeders will be donated to Red Squirrels United NI who will place them in woodlands across Co Down to help with conservation.

The new feeders will help native red squirrels which are in serious decline due to disease, the loss and fragmentation of woodland habitat and competition from the more robust grey squirrel.

By way of thanks for building the feeders, Red Squirrels United NI will host a red squirrel safari for the Ballywalter Young Farmers’ members.

To keep up with other Grassroots Challenge projects you can follow them on Twitter @GrassrootsCHNI, find them on Facebook under ‘Grassroots Challenge’ or visit www.ulsterwildlife.org/grassroots