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Abby Patterson has recently stepped into the role of Forest & Bird Youth's (F&BY) Communications Manager – part of F&BY's national Communications Hub. A volunteer role, Abby has taken to it with enthusiasm reaching out to other youth via social media with essential environmental messages.

We ask Abby about her studies, her experiences in te taiao nature, and her vision for Forest & Bird Youth.

What’s your story Abby? What’s your whakapapa and what has your life journey been?

I am currently 20 years old and in my third year of university studying Biological Science and Environmental Science at Victoria University. I am really lucky that I knew what I wanted to study, and I've always had a real desire to make a difference to help our planet. Throughout all of my schooling, I have been a part of environmental groups and helped to organise a variety of projects. Whether this is litter prevention, reducing energy use, or just trying to promote sustainable practices to students, I have always really enjoyed getting involved. Near the end of last year, I started an Instagram account called @outdoorswithabby where I started sharing some of my own experiences in nature, as well as raising awareness for current environmental issues. I feel social media really is the way of the future, especially in reaching rangatahi and I am really pleased with how it has gone so far. 

What is your first memory of nature? How did you first get involved with environmental work?

I grew up in central Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. I was lucky enough to live close to Cornwall Park, which is where a lot of my earliest memories of nature are. I loved picking up acorns and playing about in leaves in autumn, watching baby animals and first flowers bloom in spring, and having picnics with friends and family in the summer. I went to Royal Oak Primary school, and in Year 4 I had a wonderful teacher called Mrs McConnell, who was the head of the environmental group. Being in her class and getting to join the "Enviro Group" was what first sparked my interest in nature – and when I first remember becoming passionate about the environment. At that time, I was researching every type of animal on National Geographic TV shows, and I was encouraging my family members to shop more consciously. My ninth birthday present was a membership to Greenpeace – so it is really no surprise that this is what I am doing now. 

Abby Patterson, Forest & Bird Youth Communications Manager. Image supplied

When did Forest & Bird Youth (F&BY) enter your radar?

Forest & Bird Youth is quite new to me, I applied to join the F&BY Communications Hub around the end of last year. After Nate announced his departure last month, the role of Communications Manager in this team felt like a dream role for me, and I'm enthusiastic to take it on. 

You are the new Communications Manager for F&BY – what is your vision for it?

Many of F&BY's current social media content is great at updating us about current campaigns and what different youth hubs have been up to. What I think is currently missing is showcasing the talent and content creation of our incredible youth. I have an awesome team with lots of strengths, and I hope this will allow us to create regular, entertaining content the youth of Aotearoa can engage in. We want them to be inspired by to care about Papatūānuku. 

What do you think is the biggest environmental priority for rangatahi young people today?

I know it has been said over and over again, but rangatahi really are the glimmer of hope that we have in the climate crisis. I have had the privilege of talking to the older generation of environmentalists who feel that there is much more engagement with the planet in our generation then when they were young. The future is engaging with youth by advocating, through social media, about the issues our planet faces and do-able steps that can be achieved by an everyday person to make it seem less daunting. 

What have been your personal challenges in environment and sustainability as a rangatahi young person?

Almost anyone I talk to really cares about the environment, but they tell me it seems like too depressing a topic or they don’t know where to start. In a world still driven by the profits of fossil fuels and mass consumerism, it feels like a near impossible task to turn things around. That said, there are lots of examples of good news stories where people have been able to restore an environment. I think it is important to keep these stories at the forefront of people’s minds when talking about the planet to show that change is possible. 

Join Forest & Bird Youth

Forest & Bird Youth is a nationwide network of young people (aged 14-25) who are protecting and restoring Aotearoa's wildlife and wild places. Join this nationwide community and get involved in opportunities, events, competitions and more. This is also a space to support you in your involvement and journey within the network. Grow as a leader, a volunteer, and as a conservationist.

Find out more on our Forest & Bird Youth webpage
Visit the Forest & Bird Youth Facebook arrow_outwardand Instagramarrow_outward

This article first appeared in the June 2024 E-news.

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