Shannon's Youth Programme Experience

16 April 2024 2 minute read

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Shannon with other Youth Programme participants

Shannon Dargan recently completed our Trees for Cities Youth Programme, which gets young people tree planting and learning maintenance skills on the ground in London. Shannon shares what she’s gained from the experience, and how it has complemented her studies and work in sustainability.

Learning about tree planting alongside communities

I first discovered the Youth Programme with Trees for Cities at the end of 2023. I had been familiar with the work that Trees for Cities does, so I was really excited for the opportunity to participate and get some hands-on experience.

The Youth Programme has allowed me to learn about the greenery around me in the city I call home. We’ve done some pretty cool events on tree identification and learned how London’s green spaces have changed for good and bad over the years. Going into the programme, I had studied a lot of the topics we looked at, but had not necessarily “gotten my hands dirty,” so to speak. It feels great to have some hard skills in addition to knowledge about sustainability.

I think it is really important to educate communities about their local green spaces and the benefits of urban tree planting, and I love getting to learn alongside them!

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Youth Programme participants on a Tree ID walk in Kennington Park (October 2023)

Shannon's journey in studying sustainability

The sustainability field first piqued my interest during a Marine Biology class in high school. I was fascinated by concepts like bycatch and aquaculture. It was then that I found my passion for sustainable solutions. After high school, I did my bachelor’s degree in International Relations with (you guessed it) a primary thematic focus in Environmental Sustainability & Global Health, and a complementary focus in Identity, Race, Gender, and Culture. I studied a range of subjects which gave me loads of amazing knowledge about the green sector.

I then got my master’s degree in Regional & Urban Planning Studies. I took a ton of amazing classes, but Urban Futures and Planning for Sustainable Cities were probably my favourites. I loved my modules on the importance of green urban infrastructure. Towards the end of my master’s studies, I began working for a charity that advocates for sustainable transport, so when I saw a post about the youth programme, it felt like everything was falling into place.

What’s next?

Although the Youth Programme has ended, I still plan to volunteer as much as possible as I really enjoyed my experience.

On our last day, one of the other youth volunteers joked, “Now I don’t know what I am going to do with my Saturday afternoons!”

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Youth Programme at a community planting day in Stoneham Park, Bexley (November 2023)

In the future, I plan to have a career in sustainability advocacy and social value, but I know I’ll still be spending a lot of my Saturday afternoons with this amazing organisation, as well as continuing to brush up on my tree identification skills.

We’re a charity, of course we’re super late to this trend…

As well as writing for us, Shannon recently captured volunteers sharing some of the likely experiences you can expect at one of our planting days, filmed at Hillingdon Court Park back in February. Check it out below!

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