Last month I interviewed feisty sixteen year old (though I think she may have had a birthday since then, as her blog is now saying seventeen year old?) Mya-Rose Craig.
Mya-Rose is a world lister, and a Rock Bunting in Spain this spring was her 5000th species! (At sixteen!) Yes, big lists are built around opportunity, money, travel, and time, but she will have seen and experienced a lot more than most young people her age – and her parents, Chris and Helena, will have required her to think while she was off travelling with them – and there’s no better education in my mind than being made to think about the things you see.
Anyway, while the conversation could easily have been about birds, birds, and even more birds, I wanted to get Mya-Rose’s perspective on the other passions in her life: equality, access to the countryside, online bullying, and the climate emergency we’re all facing.
If that seems a bit ‘heavy going’ for a teenager, it’s worth pointing out that Mya-Rose has form here: she is a very interesting young woman, with a drive and commitment that I felt was worth almost ‘archiving’. Will she still feel this way in, say, a decade? Will she emerge as a generational leader, or quietly drop out of the limelight and back into birding and world listing?
Either would be understandable, and I certainly won’t be stepping forward to judge whatever decision she makes – but in the meantime here’s the link to the conversation on The Sound Approach website: Birdgirl | Mya-Rose Craig
Yesterday I interviewed a remarkable and very impressive young conservationist/campaigner – Mya-Rose Craig aka Birdgirl.
The daughter of a twitching father and incredibly supportive mother, at just sixteen Mya-Rose has a global bird list in excess of 5000 (she’s the youngest person to ever see 5000, which means she’s been birding overseas a LOT: she has a trip to Brazil in the summer lined up as well which could add another 300 new species), but – and in fact what is more interesting to me – she is perhaps as well known as a courageous spokesperson on issues like racism and helping Visible Minority Ethnic (VME) people into nature (for which she receives some absolutely disgraceful abuse on social media)..
We spoke the day after a rather weary Mya-Rose and her mother Helena had camped out at the Extinction Rebellion protest in London, an event that I assumed might have changed her life. How so? For example I’d read in numerous interviews (with an even younger Birdgirl of course) that Mya-Rose’s ambition had always been to see more than 5400 bird species (half of all the species recognised at the moment), but was that still the case? And how do young people who are so aware of the environment, biodiversity loss, and rising sea levels cope with catastrophe hanging over their immediate future?
We spoke for about an hour. I haven’t started editing our conversation yet so it’ll be a little while until the interview is ready, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth listening in to find out the answers…