Malta Hosts Young Reporters for the Environment Meeting

from Wildlife Promise

The small and densely populated island nation of Malta was this year’s host for the annual meeting of the Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) program. As the National Wildlife Federation’s coordinator for YRE USA, I had the good fortune to travel to Malta for this gathering in February.

YRE Group Photo_FEE

Representatives from 22 countries gathered for the annual Young Reporters meeting in Malta in February 2013.

Young Reporters for the Environment, like Eco-Schools, is a program of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). While YRE operates a little differently in each country, the basic structure is the same. Students investigate environmental issues in their communities, learn journalism techniques, and report on their findings in writing, photography or videography.  They share their work locally and then submit it to a national competition for review by a panel of jurors. National winners proceed to the international competition.

The meeting included representatives from 22 different countries (of 27 currently participating in the program). It provided an opportunity to share information and brainstorm ideas for continued development of the program. Some countries, including Cyprus, Portugal, and Morocco, have hosted YRE for a decade or more and have a wealth of experience to contribute. Others, including the United States, are in our inaugural year. In particular, we discussed how to better integrate YRE with Eco-Schools, the other FEE program that NWF hosts. There is excellent potential for Eco-Schools students at the middle and high school levels to investigate and report on issues related to their Eco-Schools work. Younger students could also report on their school’s projects, learning journalism techniques that will prepare them to enter the YRE competition in the future (YRE USA is open to youth ages 13–18).

Our meeting concluded with a workshop by expert nature photographer Dr. Mark Mifsud from the University of Malta. After demonstrating some techniques with examples from his own work, Dr. Mifsud sent us out into Xrobb L-Ghagin Nature Park to practice with our cameras. Back in the classroom, we each chose two photos for the group to consider and, in a speed-round of judging, used our new knowledge to identify the most successful shots. It was a fun exercise that will help all of us better understand the role of both students and jury in the YRE competition!

The Azure Window on Malta’s smaller island of Gozo, one of the most spectacular views I saw along the small country’s many miles of Mediterranean coastline.

Not only did we enjoy the opportunity for international collaboration, we also had a chance to see Malta’s beautiful countryside and coast and learn about the islands’ long and varied history. We were even invited to an event with the Prime Minister! Many thanks to our host organization, Nature Trust Malta, for their wonderful hospitality.

The international aspect of YRE is a great strength and provides participants with a unique opportunity to take part in a truly global endeavor.  I greatly value the chance to connect with people from so many different countries all working toward a common goal of environmental awareness and action.

There are still a few more days until the March 15, 2013 deadline for the first annual YRE USA competition – it’s not too late to submit an entry!  Learn more about the program and find all the details for participating at yre-usa.org.