Born free’s Great Debate school event, in London

23 June 2022


To help students become the next generation of change-makers, Born Free has held a major, in person event at SOAS University of London’s Brunei Gallery, attended by pupils and teachers.

On Wednesday 22 June 2022, Born Free held an important education event in London’s Russell Square, focusing on ‘How can agricultural practices support conservation’. Through an expert panel discussion and ‘Power of Persuasion’ workshop, students considered issues surrounding farming and consumerism, and its links to biodiversity loss. In our first in-person school event since Covid, Born Free’s education team hosted 120 secondary school students and 15 teachers, from six schools, at SOAS University of London, with a further opportunity for schools to join the panel discussion remotely.

The event started with a keynote address from Dominic Dyer, British Wildlife Advocate & Policy Advisor at Born Free, who talked through some of his campaigning experience and what it takes to make a difference on issues you are passionate about.

The students then had the chance to create their own campaign, looking to change opinion and drive action towards a more biodiversity friendly system of farming, shopping and consuming. Student campaigns included ‘revive our planet’, ‘we deserve better…’ and ‘the lavender project, pesticide free food…’ with one slogan reading ‘Do you want to destroy the Earth?’

The event was topped off by an expert panel discussion hosted by our Executive President Will Travers OBE. On the panel we welcomed:

  • Bella Lack, Born Free Youth Ambassador and environmental campaigner, who began campaigning work at 12 years old.
  • Patrick Barker, farmer and conservationist from Westhorpe in Mid-Suffolk. Patrick’s ethos is to farm in modern, productive ways while having a farm full of wildlife.
  • Sam Kenyon, farmer and conservationist. Sam believes strongly that a biodiverse and regenerative approach to farming and our soils are key to reversing the climate and biodiversity crisis.
  • Dr Mark Jones, Born Free’s Head of Policy and veterinarian. Mark has Masters’ degrees in both aquatic and wild animal health, and several years’ experience in the non-government animal protection sector covering international wildlife trade, wildlife management and animal welfare issues.

In response to the question what can young people do to protect farm animals and animals generally, Bella Lack said that “Young people can do anything. Our responsibility is to use social media to make sure we become aware and to find out how sustainable our foods are, then to use the knowledge and power of social media to share with others, amplifying our voice.”

When representatives from St Martin’s Academy asked the panel ‘What can we do to ensure companied and governments use sustainable practices and products?’ ideas included engaging with farmers, joining and supporting organisations that resonate with individual’s values and using our own purchasing power.

The special day, filled with student questions, activities and ideas will hopefully stay with the audience for a long time to come.

You can find out more about our Education work and get involved, including a full list of our free resources, live webinars, workshops and free monthly kids email

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