Young Environmental Champions


Primary and Secondary Schools

University and TAFE applications

The Young Environmental Champions (YEC) are identified young people completing their Australian primary, secondary and tertiary education, who are supported to act on environmental and social issues important to them, their schools and their communities.  Through the YEC project, these young people and their communities are connected with the best minds and ideas in government, education, industry, not for profits and the research sector to sustainably translate complex challenges into concrete problems and feel empowered to solve real world issues at a local, state or national level. 

This bespoke program supports young Australians to be agents of change creating a movement to embed sustainability thinking and actions in our way of life.

YEC Graduates can:

  1. Investigate the world beyond their immediate environment, framing significant problems and conducting well-crafted and age-appropriate research.
  2. Recognize perspectives, others’ and their own, articulating and explaining such perspectives thoughtfully and respectfully.
  3. Communicate ideas effectively with diverse audiences, bridging geographic, linguistic, ideological, and cultural barriers.
  4. Take action to improve conditions, viewing themselves as changemakers in the world and participating reflectively.

    This 10 week program is open to young people in Stage 3 to Stage 5 in primary and secondary schools in NSW.

    How it Works

    The program focuses on three key pillars of support. NETWORKING-MENTORING-EMPOWERING .

    NETWORK young people with:

    • Other young people in their region and other regions across NSW.
    • Young people/role models who have successfully transitioned to higher education as mentors.
    • Subject matter experts both within their community and outside their community.
    • Other young people who have designed and delivered successful community projects.
    • Mentors, allies, champions.

    MENTOR young people to:

    • Develop new skills and knowledge.
    • Create and implement their OWN solutions, relevant to their local communities and/or educational institutions.
    • Be changemakers and influencers.
    • Develop social capital – the friendships, community contacts, mentors and networks that build a sense of belonging now and in the future.

    EMPOWER young people to:

    • Confidently design and implement action learning experiences that have a genuine impact, from start to finish.
    • Build their networks.
    • Have agency and voice.
    • Develop succession plans and leave a legacy.

    What is Involved and Skills Participants Get

    Over the course of this 10 week program, the YEC participants will:

    Attend ONE regional in-person design thinking workshop for team building exercises, research and reflection on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, project ideation brainstorming, and community action planning.

    Identify their unique strengths, opportunities for personal growth, set their goals and begin their journey.

    Learn skills to improve their wellbeing, resilience and mental health when faced with adverse events affecting their local community and environment (fires, flood, COVID).

    Be trained and mentored on the value of diversity, proactive listening/hearing skills and applied empathy.

    Network with experts and mentors, who are current practitioners and volunteers working closely with local community groups such as sustainable food hubs, Landcare, and Bushcare.

    Visit relevant local community projects with their mentors.

    Forge community connects that build individual and collective resilience of the community to over-coming challenges and adversity such as fire, flood and climate variability.

    Participate in a ONE day in-person regional pitch, reflection, and celebration event where they will share their community action plan and project delivery learnings; workshop their next steps as capacity builders for other young people in their communities; developing a pathway for stepping up in leadership; creating a framework for applying what they have learned.

    A broad range of regionally based experts, including young role models from the agricultural sector, known as Young Farming Champions (YFC), will ensure the program is youth led, co-designed and actively incorporates the voices of young people from design to delivery as well as act as workshop co-hosts.

    Teacher Support

    YECs will also be supported by one teacher from their school to bring teaching expertise to the workshops, provide trusted boundaries for behaviour and support students to remain focussed on the problem and solution creation. Teachers can also connect with experts in environment and sustainability, as well as forge new community connects, building their capacity and capability to embed sustainability thinking into their curriculum more broadly.

    [Where a school faces any challenges in a teacher engaging in the program, as may be the case with workforce availability, a school may elect to choose at community mentor to support their student’s journey.]

    Participant Support

    Participants will be supplied with a resource pack to support all workshop activities and connect with each-other through regular online sessions for structured support in the co-design creation of their impactful community action plan. 

    Mentor Support

    In addition to the experiences that the school students complete, the YFC mentors and YEC from the higher education sector will participate in an online workshop to provide them with the foundational knowledge and skills for their mentoring role.  

    The workshop will explore:   

    • What it means to be a mentor
    • Explore the challenges and potential solutions that mentees may face, including conversations on diversity, what is ‘on the table vs off the table,’ proactive listening skills as well as applied empathy.

    The workshop will be completed prior to the first regional immersion workshop.

    Where is the program on offer in 2023

    NSW RegionLocal Government AreaWhen
    Greater Sydney Hawkesbury, Penrith, Blue MountainsTerm One
    HunterCessnock, Muswellbrook, Singleton, Upper Hunter Shire
    Dungog, Mid-Coast
    Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Newcastle, Port Stephens
    Term One
    Riverina MurrayAlbury, Berrigan, Edward River, Federation, Greater Hume Shire, Murray River
    Bland, Carrathool, Griffith, Hay, Leeton, Murrumbidgee, Narrandera
    Coolamon, Cootamundra- Gundagai, Junee, Lockhart, Snowy Valleys, Temora, Wagga Wagga
    Term Three 
    South East and TablelandsGoulburn Mulwaree,  Upper Lachlan Shire, Wingecarribee Term Three 

    Key Dates

    TERM 1

    Workshop One [In Person]
    Identifying Key Stakeholders and Scope of Works 


    21st February 2023
    9.30am – 2pm

    Hawkesbury/Penrith/Blue Mountains

    22nd February 2023
    9.30am – 2pm

    Workshop Two [Design Thinking]


    7th March 2023
    9am – 10am


    8th March 2023
    9am – 10am

    Workshop Three [Project Planning]


    21st March 2023
    9am – 10am


    22nd March 2023
    9am – 10am

    Workshop Four [Pitch Event]


    12th May 2023
    9am – 2pm



    Champion Primary School
    Hamilton Public School

    Reserve Champion Primary School
    St Brigid’s Primary School

    Champion Secondary School
    St Joseph’s College Lochinvar

    Reserve Champion Secondary School
    Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education

    TERM 3

    Workshop One [In Person]
    Identifying Key Stakeholders and Scope of Works 


    27th July 2023
    9.30am – 2pm

    South East and Tablelands

    28th July 2023
    9.30am – 2pm

    Workshop Two [Design Thinking]


    8th August 2023
    9am – 10am

    South East and Tablelands

    9th August 2023
    9am – 10am

    Workshop Three [Project Planning]


    22nd August 2023
    9am – 10am

    South East and Tablelands

    23rd August 2023
    9am – 10am

    Workshop Four [Pitch Event]


    21st September 2023
    9.30am – 2pm

    South East and Tablelands

    22nd September 2023
    9.30am – 2pm

    Expression of Interest

    Program Flyer

    Primary and Secondary Schools

    University and TAFE applications

    Meet the Judges

    Alexa Stuart

    Alexa Stuart

    Alexa Stuart is a 19 year old climate justice activist who was a key leader in the Newcastle School Strike 4 Climate. Alexa was a co-coordinator of the Gas Free Hunter Alliance campaign and has provided critical insight and leadership for the new iteration of Rising Tide. In 2020 she was names Newcastle young citizen of the year for her environmental advocacy.

    Dan Brown

    Dan Brown

    Dan is passionate about supporting sustainable social change that enables strong, resilient, and healthy youth populations across regional NSW. 

    He is an experienced community development and health promotion specialist with more than 10 years of experience working within the youth sector. He has a demonstrated history working across government, health and education and holds a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Public Health. 

    Dominic May

    Dominic May

    Dominic May is the Founder of CoastXP, a nature-based adventure tourism company. CoastXP offers unique boat tours and guided nature walks along the stunning Newcastle and Lake Macquarie coastline. CoastXP is a multi-award winning and accredited quality/sustainable tourism business, and recently Dominic was recognised as Newcastle’s 2023 Young Citizen of the Year for his active contribution to Newcastle’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

    sue martin

    Sue Martin

    Sue is passionately involved in supporting environmental educators across NSW and is currently chair of AAEE NSW. Sue has worked across tertiary, local government, catchment management and the school sectors in a career that started in 1987 when she graduated as an agronomist from Sydney University. Sue chairs the local Landcare group in Cattai catchment part of Dyarubbin, (the Hawkesbury-Nepean River) . It is about connecting people to their local environment and finding ways to live and work more sustainably, caring for our common home.

    Tommy Viljoen

    Senior Partner, Cyber Risk Services Strategy and Governance at Deloitte and Founding Member of Biodiversity, Threatened and Endangered Species.


    “So grateful that Action4Agriculture chose the Riverina as the pilot to launch this amazing opportunity for young regional youth. Riverina Local Land Services will be proudly supporting it ! It goes hand in hand with our existing partnership with Action4Agriculture growing tomorrow’s young leaders today.”
    – Ray Willis MD Riverina Local Land Services

    “Soroptimist International Griffith applauds the incredible work Action4Agriculture does to support young leaders in our communities. The Young Environmental Champions program will be an invaluable, empowering experience for the students, staff and mentors involved.”

    “The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation supports innovative organisations that are ready to take ambitious steps to bring their ideas to fruition and the Action4Youth – Empowering Young Environmental Champions program strongly aligns with our strategy of backing young people in regional communities. It will give youth and young leaders’ greater agency, skills and equipping them with tools and networks to be purposeful and effective in their careers, with an emphasis on important environmental issues.”
    – David Hardie VFFF Foundation Manager 

    The Empowering Young Environmental Champions program is supported by the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation who are Backing Young People with innovative opportunities that advance their independence, social purpose and future security and the Office for Regional Youth