Youngsters urged to go wild with poetry

Little boy and his father gardening in spring. Photo credit: ArtMarie.

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What poem does nature inspire you to write?

Environmental charity, Earthwatch, is launching a poetry competition on Monday, April 27, with a deadline for submission of May 17.

The competition is part of its Wild Days online programme of indoor/outdoor learning activities, which aims to support families in lockdown.

Earthwatch ambassador and head competition judge, Michaela Strachan, launched the competition by reading her Wildlife A-Z poem and entrants will have a chance to win a signed copy of her children’s book, ‘Michaela Strachan’s Really Wild Adventures’.

Michaela added: ‘This lockdown is, without doubt, challenging for many children.

But what I have noticed, is that it’s brought out the creative side, as well as an appreciation for any outdoor space  the youngsters have access to.

‘This poetry competition is a great way to use that creativity and connection with the natural world. I think we’re going to be really impressed with what they all come up with.’

Other prizes include signed copies of Nick Baker’s Bug Book, the author is also an ambassador and has presented content for the Wild Days programme, plus, Diary of a Naturalist by Dara McAnulty, a 16-year-old naturalist, packets of wildflower seeds and mini-nature kits. Field guidebooks from Princeton University Press’s ‘Wild Guide’ series will also be prizes, encouraging families to explore and engage with nature again when the lockdown is over.

There will be four categories: for children aged seven and under; aged eight to 11; 12 to 16; and for schools. The competition is open to all those who wish to take part, whether or not they are current subscribers of the Wild Days programme.

Sarah Staunton-Lamb, Earthwatch’s senior engagement manager, commented: ‘We’re going through a very emotional time, locked away from many daily routines, friends and family, but also feeling the power of the natural world like never before.

‘Poetry is a great outlet for expression, and we hope this competition encourages children to express their feelings and capture our connection with nature as we go through this exceptional time.’

Schools can also collectively take part and are invited to run the competition amongst pupils and then submit their top five poems. Schools will have the opportunity to win an Earthwatch ‘Naturehood’ learning box which is filled with outdoor learning resources including games, activities, books and equipment.

Poems can be entered via the online entry form on the website wild-days.org.

Entries will be judged by the charity’s four ambassadors, Michaela Strachan; Nick Baker; plus Mya-Rose Craig, the world’s top teen birder aka Twitter’s @BirdgirlUK who has 14.6K online followers; and Bella Lack, 17-year-old conservationist and blogger with 150K followers.

Poems will also be celebrated each week as part of the ‘Friday Fanfare’ which will share the best poems submitted on social media and as part of the Wild Days newsletter.