Pint-sized Owen Harris from Yeppoon has a passion for the environment that is inspiring kids and adults alike to take action for the planet.
When he is not picking up litter and marine debris on beaches or giving talks about recycling and marine debris, the eight-year-old is the founder of the Cap Coast Eco Warriors working along the Capricorn Coast and surrounding catchment. Along with his fellow young environmentalists, Owen is working hard to make a long-lasting impact on the local environment.
“I love that kids get to step up and lead the way. I love that it’s not only me but also my friends now helping to save the planet,” shares Owen. “We create events depending on our ideas and try and work with all the local groups not a certain timeframe. We want to keep it fun and not just a commitment. Every event has a fun component such as exploring caves after a hard morning of planting trees. This is how you make conservation fun.”
In 2019, Owen was named Visionary Wildlife Warrior of the Year at just four years old. His connection to conservation was inspired when his parents took him to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital when he was three-and-a-half. “I saw all the sick and injured wildlife, and I knew then that I had to step up and help,” he says.
And step up he has, most recently lending his voice to Junior Landcare’s current ‘Love Letters to the Land’ campaign, which is running throughout National Biodiversity Month to encourage children across Australia to share what they love most about the environment, and small but actionable steps they can take to protect it.
“No matter how small, no matter how big, no matter how old or young you are – you can always make a difference. And if we all make a small difference then together it will be huge,” says Owen.
In his own Love Letter to the Land, Owen writes: “I love walking along the beach and feeling the sand between my toes and the waves washing over my feet. Nothing is better than listening to the good morning calls of the red-tailed black cockatoos while enjoying the light of the rising sun on the horizon. I will always be there to conserve this beautiful place. I will plant native trees to restore disturbed dunes and I will pick up rubbish whenever I see it.”
The campaign forms part of Junior Landcare’s 25-year anniversary, building on the program’s long-held belief that young Australians play a vital in caring for the land, their environment and other natural resources.
“With the intensifying impacts of climate change, we need to prepare and support the next generation to feel empowered to take action for our natural environment,” says Landcare Australia CEO, Dr Shane Norrish.
“Campaigns such as this one allow us to recognise the contribution children can make when it comes to caring for our natural environment; showcase their ideas and nurture in them a genuine connection with nature to inspire lifelong action for the safe future of our land.”
By submitting their Love Letters to the Land, children can stand the chance to win a visit from Junior Landcare ambassador, Costa Georgiadis, to their school or youth group (T&Cs apply). The Top 25 letters will also be published on The Land website. For more info or to get involved visit: https://juniorlandcare.org.au/love-letters-to-the-land