Environmental winner encourages 2014 competitors

A 26 year old student from Gorseinon, Swansea is about to embark on a trip to Slovenia’s Triglav National Park to learn more about the area. He says it took him less than a minute to apply for Urdd Gobaith Cymru’s Geraint George Scholarship, which saw him beat off stiff competition and win the special overseas trip.

Owen BidderOwen Bidder, who won the 2013 Welsh language environmental scholarship says he hopes a number of youngsters will participate in the competition to win the scholarship. The prize will be announced and awarded at this year’s Urdd National Eisteddfod in Meirionnydd.

“My reaction when I saw the competition details on email at Swansea University last year was: ‘Wow, what an opportunity – communication, something I do with a lot of people already, meeting influential environmentalists and an opportunity to go on a fantastic adventure. I went for it and succeeded!”

In a few weeks time thanks to the scholarship, Owen will visit Slovenia to learn more about the area, its environment and its landscape.

Owen feels that he has received great support from the Urdd, Natural Resources Wales and Snowdonia National Park, with both organisations working jointly with the Urdd to offer this scholarship.

He said: “Another element of the prize is the mentoring you receive from the organisations. It’s a great opportunity for a young person, such as myself, as I begin on my career in the environmental sector.

“Collecting the prize on the Eisteddfod stage in Pembrokeshire last year was a great experience too! It has been a real honour for me, and I am very proud to have been given this opportunity,” Owen explains.

Owen is currently in Germany continuing the work that won him the scholarship’s top prize. As part of his PhD research, he is using technology developed at Swansea University to study foxes in their habitat in north Germany. Theses foxes search for food in coastal marshes that are flooded by sea water twice daily, so have to adapt their way of life to protect themselves and survive.

However, it was other animals that took the starring role in his scholarship work, badgers:

“As part of my research work, we set up camera traps to monitor a group of badgers in partnership with the RSPCA. Subsequently I had a lot of film clips of these playful characters foraging for food. I was keen to show what an interesting species they are, and possibly convince people, that they are a feature of rural Wales.”

“I sought some tips from my brother Rhys on how to edit and create a film, I began putting sequences together to create a short film. I put a commentary on the film and sent it in to the competition.”

Aled Siôn Urdd Gobaith Cymru National Eisteddfod Director said: “The scholarship is open to anyone between 18 and 25 years old. Its purpose is to develop distinct communicators that can assist the people of Wales and beyond to appreciate the natural world around us and understand the factors that affect it. We are grateful to our scholarship partners, Snowdonia National Park Authority and Natural Resources Wales for their continued support.

Emyr Williams from Snowdonia National Park Authority said: “Geraint George loved working with young people, encouraging them to ask questions and form opinions about the environment here in Wales and beyond. It is fit and proper for this scholarship to reflect those views. Geraint saw Wales and its heritage in an international context, he keenly attended the Europarc conference and visited Triglav through his Snowdonia links.

“We wish Owen well as he visits our friends at Triglav and we hope he benefits from the visit. We sincerely hope it will also assist his career development within the environmental sector.”

To compete for the scholarship, competitors are invited to send work to the Urdd in any medium, on any environmental topic relevant to Wales. There will be a choice of two prizes. The first is a week long trip to Trigav National Park in Slovenia and the second option is to attend Europark Conference held in a different European cities annually.

The work can be prepared in any, or a combination of forms, including short film, blog, audio, articles, posters, leaflets, literature, stories, cartoons etc. Work needs to be sent to the Urdd by the 1st of March 2014 either via email or by sending two hard copies through the post. Further details are available from the Urdd website, www.urdd.org.

Story by: Ffion Clwyd Edwards, pi-ar, 01745 550123 / ffion@pi-ar.co.uk / 07702 048184
Mali Thomas, 02920 635 695 / mali@urdd.org

Photo: One of the judges, Dyfrig Davies presents Owen Bidder with the Geraint George Scholarship at Pembrokeshire’s Urdd National Eisteddfod stage 2013