Two S4 students from Alloa Academy have been awarded first place in a regional competition to propose solutions to environmental challenges. Ben Moore and Ross McInally, both 15, were recognised for their entry to the Young Pathfinders Climate Competition, which concluded the second year of the Young Pathfinders initiative, an educational outreach programme led by Scotland’s International Environment Centre (SIEC) at the University of Stirling.
The Alloa pupils proposed turning leftovers from the school’s cafeteria into compost, which would then be used to grow fresh produce on the school grounds to support food banks in Clackmannanshire. The approach was designed to tackle both the environmental problems caused by excessive food waste, and the challenges resulting from food poverty in the local community.
Rebecca Pankhurst, SIEC Manager at the University of Stirling, said: “Ben and Ross presented a simple and effective solution which can make an important contribution to sustainability in and around their school. The judges were impressed by the extent of their research into a complex issue, and the clear and persuasive way in which they presented their response.
“Entries from all the participating schools were of a high standard, which is testament the students’ hard work and creativity.”
The University will also gift the winning school with a Hydro Grow System, a classroom-sized tank for growing crops without soil, and will continue to work with the pupils to develop their proposals.
Sam Stewart, Depute Headteacher at Alloa Academy, said: “It is fantastic to see Ben and Ross recognised for their talent and original thinking, and to secure a Hydro Grow System for Alloa Academy. Their success in the Young Pathfinders competition will be an inspiration to their fellow students, who will benefit from this fantastic new learning resource.”
Pupils from nearby Lornshill Academy were also highly commended for their entry, which involved using tree stumps and wildflowers to encourage greater biodiversity on their school campus.
The Young Pathfinders programme empowers pupils from schools across Stirling and Clackmannanshire to respond to a future shaped by climate change. A year-long calendar of events includes a focus on enhanced environmental awareness, knowledge of green skills and green career pathways, and opportunities to hear directly from inspirational speakers, researchers and practitioners working in environmentally focused careers. The Pathfinders are also supported with developing employability skills, including teamwork, leadership, communication, and problem solving.
Clackmannanshire Council Leader Councillor Ellen Forson said: “Congratulations to the young people of Alloa Academy on winning this year’s Climate Competition. I’d also like to recognise the efforts of all the young people who have participated in Young Pathfinders for working so hard to develop their environmental awareness.
“This is a wonderful programme which not only develops the young people’s understanding of the challenges associated with tackling climate change, but it gives them employability skills and vital insight into green careers, which can only stand them in good stead for the future.”
Established as part of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, Scotland’s International Environment Centre is a pioneering collaboration that will create an innovation community in the Forth Valley, driving the creation of a net zero regional economy and acting as a global exemplar of low-carbon growth.
The Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal is a £90.2m investment from the UK Government and Scottish Government in innovation and infrastructure that will drive inclusive economic growth throughout the region.
Regional partners, including Clackmannanshire Council, Stirling Council, and the University of Stirling, will invest up to £123.8m, resulting in a Deal worth more than £214m, to be delivered over the next 10 to 15 years.
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Notes to editors
Pictured, left-right: Rebecca Pankhurst, SIEC Manager, University of Stirling; Ross McInally; Ben Moore; Sam Stewart, Depute Headteacher, Alloa Academy.
University of Stirling
The University of Stirling is committed to providing education with a purpose and carrying out research which has a positive impact on communities across the globe – addressing real issues, providing solutions, and helping to shape society. Stirling is 4th in Scotland and 43rd in the UK for research impact, with 87% of its research having an outstanding or very considerable impact on society – and more than 80% rated either world leading or internationally excellent (Research Excellence Framework 2021).
The University of Stirling is ranked among the top 30 UK universities for student satisfaction (National Student Survey) and top 30 in the UK for postgraduate student experience (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey), and has an overall five-star rating in the QS Stars University Ratings.
More than 18,500 students study with the University of Stirling globally, with over 140 nationalities represented on its scenic central Scotland campus alone. The University – also home to 1,700 staff – is ranked first in the UK and top three in the world for its campus environment (International Student Barometer 2022, wave two). Ranked first in the UK and top five in the world for its sports facilities (International Student Barometer 2022, wave two), Stirling is Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence. Its world-class facilities provide the perfect training environment for the University’s sports scholars – many of whom compete at the highest level, including at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games – and for students, staff, and the wider community.
The University has twice been recognised with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize – the first for its Institute for Social Marketing and Health (2014) and the second for its Institute of Aquaculture (2019).
The University is a signatory to the £214 million Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal and a central partner of the Forth Valley University College Health Partnership.