More than fifty A-Level students took a lead in Surrey's inaugural Environmental Youth Summit last week (March 28).

Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) hosted the first summit of its kind and welcomed budding environmentalists to learn more about the region's flora and fauna with a plethora of hands-on, educational activities.

The students were joined by TV wildlife presenter Nick Baker and SWT's Youth Ambassador Sophie Pavelle, who shared their expertise and encouraged the students to channel their enthusiasm and promote environmentalism in the wake of the summit.

The students got to grips with some of Surrey's best-loved animals from common newts to wood mice, and learnt more about conservation efforts being done throughout the UK to protect ecosystems now under increasing threat from climate breakdown.

The day included talks about the Environment Bill and new laws protecting our natural world, lobbying MPs, environmental campaigning, science and nature communications, new approaches to wildlife recovery and the science behind protecting and restoring our natural world.

Sarah Jane Chimbwandira, chief executive of Surrey Wildlife Trust said: "When I was their age there was no real forum to express why the natural world mattered to me.

"We want to make it happen for them, give them access to people who listen, help them create social networks with like-minded people, give them the tools they need and opportunity to express themselves in creating the future they want."

Ms Pavelle meanwhile suggested that the Surrey summit could be used as a model across the UK.

Ms Pavelle said: "Every single person I spoke to has a desire to be a change maker, whether in science, policy or through creative stuff. It’s a really exciting time to be talking about the environment. It would be amazing if this could be a template for all Wildlife Trusts across the country."

The students agreed on six pledges for wildlife for schools and colleges in Surrey to take on board including: starting an environment club, increasing participation in environmental issues, reducing single use plastic and waste in schools, growing their own food, contacting MPs and politicians and creating wild spaces for nature in school grounds.

Bethan from Esher College said: "Coming here has made me realise just how much I love it and I’ve discovered there’s lots of different routes into a career in the environment, like volunteering for Surrey Wildlife Trust, working in conservation, studying biology..."

Maya from Croydon High School said that she was inspired to get more involved in environmental campaigns following the summit.

Maya said: "Holding a newt was great. The talks and workshops were very good too. I’m just so excited.

"It’s hard to find this info out just by researching online. And now personally I feel inspired to make positive change and raise awareness."