I want to get active, but what can I do about it?
How do I get started?
In 2010, with 7 young people, WWF-Austria started a youth empowerment program aimed at supporting young adults who want to get active for the environment. Five years later, the group calls itself, “Generation Earth” and has been training and taking action throughout Europe! It’s described as “a multicultural network of young people who inspire, motivate, educate and take action on environmental problems.” Over the last 5 years, we’ve learned quite a lot about supporting youth-led action projects, and we’d like to share a few lessons learned with you! This is a very simplified version of project management, and there are many other models and online courses or sources of information that you might also want to look at to get a more complete picture:
- Find a network/group of people with whom you can work. It’s so important to have the feeling that you’re not alone, and with the help of the internet and personal contacts, you can pretty quickly find others who want to work together to drive change! There may already be groups working on the topic of sustainable fishing, development work and/or forums where you can find other interested people. Reach out to others! Be sure to also communicate with WWF staff from your country/region to find out how they can offer assistance, technical support, connections with other organizations or groups or people, etc.
- Determine where your and your group’s motivation and passion lie. It’s important to find out what your individual and group’s aim is – what drives you: what do you want to see changed in the future?
- Set a goal for project. After you’ve done some research, found out who and what else is going on, searched for some existing projects to get inspiration, gathered your team together, and selected a specific topic or problem, then collectively set a goal for your project. Depending on your time, resources, and abilities will determine the size of your project’s goal.
- Create an action plan. Create a clear structure for your project with SMART objectives (how you will reach your goal) and tactics/actions for how you will achieve your objectives. Once you have the outline completed, then lay it all out in a timeline. By when do things need to happen? Who’s responsible? What resources are needed?
- Implement your plan. Here’s where the fun happens! Set your project in motion. It’s good to have milestones and indicators so that you can monitor your progress and be sure that you are staying on track with your timeline. These will all help with reaching your objectives and project goal. Be prepared for “bumps” and problems to arise, as they often do, but keep your motivation and goal in mind, and if needed, be ready to adjust and adapt your plan.
- Communicate with the outside world! Your project may be focused on communication or educating others, but regardless, be sure to let others know about what you are doing. Get the media involved. Share your great work with the world. Keep WWF staff informed about your progress.
- Reflect and celebrate. No project is 100% perfect, so don’t hold yourself to perfectionism because there is always room to learn and grow, and reason to celebrate. Even if you don’t realize your goal and your project does not achieve the impact you had hoped for, find the positive “nuggets” in it and celebrate. Reflect with your team, thank your supporters, and get ready for the next time that you feel called to action!
Additional project management support: As said, this is just a very “quick and dirty” description of project management. There are some great resources out there to complement this list, such as, the Council of Europe and the European Commission’s T-Kit on Project Management: http://pjp-eu.coe.int/en/web/youth-partnership/t-kit-3-project-management
Looking for financial assistance? Then, take a look at the EC Erasmus+ project funding for youth projects: http://ec.europa.eu/youth/programme/index_en.htm . Work with your national or regional points of contact to develop a proposal.
Good luck and thank you for your commitment, contribution, and hard work!