Early Career Naturalist Challenge

The challenge entries

For Hen Harrier Day Online in August 2020, we invited young naturalists and nature communicators to make a short video about nature in the UK, with a focus on the uplands. There were prizes for the best three but our main aim was to offer an opportunity to a younger generation to show their work to a wider public as part of the 8 August event.

We had some brilliant entries and decided to show all of them on the day. You can enjoy them all here: click on the picture for each. A big thank you to all the entrants; we loved all the entries and hope that we may be able to run something similar next year. This year's winner was Lauren Cook, who discussed her work with Megan McCubbin during the event. We'll include that interview here shortly.

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Flo Blackbourn was awarded third place overall for her entry. In this short video filmed in stunning upland scenery in southern Scotland, she discusses some of the broader conservation challenges facing wildlife in the UK uplands – and how we can help. Flo works as a wildlife rehabilitator and is also the host of the Talk Wildlife Podcast, which you can listen to on Spotify, Facebook and YouTube. You can follow updates on Flo's work on Twitter.

Alex Collins was highly commended for his entry. He gives a great introduction to the biology of hen harriers and explains some of the conservation issues they face in the UK. Alex is a 19–year–old biology student who produces regular informative videos on wildlife and conservation, particularly around British animals. You can subscribe to Alex's YouTube channel to see more of his work.

Lauren Cook was awarded first place overall for her entry. She explains some of the incredible features of the hen harrier through beautiful stop-motion animation – and highlights their unfortunate decline and ways you can help stop it. You can see more of Lauren's incredible work on her YouTube channel and on Instagram.

Becky Downey was awarded second place overall for her entry shown. She created this lovely stop-motion video aimed at educating children on what hen harriers are and why Hen Harrier Days are unfortunately needed. Becky is Assistant Warden at Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory and uses stop motion to create educational resources aimed at engaging children with the natural world. You can follow her work on Instagram and Twitter.

Liam Pattullo was highly commended for his entry. He gives an informative introduction to hen harriers and explains in detail the conservation threats they face. Liam is an aspiring science communicator with a background in research in biodiversity and conversation at UCL, as well as being a keen photographer of wildlife. You can see more examples of his work on Instagram and Twitter.

Esther created her video using stop-motion pictures to highlight the danger the hen harrier and the rest of the natural world is in and how that impacts us. The natural world plays a great part in Esther’s life so the opportunity to help give it a voice using this video meant a lot to her and she hopes to be able to play her part in conserving the wildlife she loves.

Timescales for our challenge were short and Esther knew she could not meet the deadline for the judging for the prizes. But she submitted her entry anyway, which is brilliant, and we are proud to include it here.

Hannah Westhenry was highly commended for her entry. It is a beautiful combination of poetry and film which together deliver a poignant message about the harm our uplands suffer as a result of human activities - but with a reminder that another way of living in mutual respect with nature is possible. Hannah is a natural history student living in Wales and is president of the University of South Wales birding and natural history society. You can follow her work on Instagram or her blog.