YFCU members get involved in the Grassroots Challenge

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A number of young farmers from all over Northern Ireland recently took part in the first YFCU Snorkel Safari.

Young Farmers from Ballywalter YFC, Lylehill YFC, Killinchy YFC and Collone YFC met at the Coastal Zone, Portrush for the event which was organised through Ulster Wildlife’s Grassroots Challenge.

The Grassroots Challenge aims to inspire young people to take action to help the environment within their local communities.

The event kicked off with everyone being kitted out with their gear: wetsuits, hoods, fins and snorkel masks.

Living seas officer Dave gave a safety demo and an over view of some of the exciting marine creatures that the young farmers might find; this included beadlet anemones, star fish and crabs.

The sea was a little choppy so the young farmers weren’t able to see the vast array of wildlife near the rocky shores which they could have on a calm day however they did see forests of kelp (Laminaria), a type of large brown seaweed.

Seaweed is often overlooked but it plays a pivotal role in marine ecosystems and as well as their crucial role as primary producers, seaweed acts as shelter and a food source for countless other species.

The young farmers also saw blue rayed limpets (Patella pellucida) which are easily identified by their translucent amber shell with brilliant blue spots running in lines across the top of their shell.

Of course no true Young Farmers outing would be complete without a barbecue and the YFCU Grassroots Challenge project officer Shona was in charge of cooking duties and it was hot dogs all round, washed down with tea, coffee and plenty of cookies.

If you would like to get involved with the Grassroots Challenge contact: Londonderry, Antrim and Down clubs: shona.campbell@ulsterwildlife.org

Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh clubs: andrew.gracey@ulsterwildlife.org

You can find out more information on The Grassroots Challenge by visiting: www.ulsterwildlife.org/grassroots.