6 Steps to Success Programme

If you are carrying out an environmental project follow the Young Environmentalist Awards ‘6 Steps to Success’ programme. 

Step 1: get a team together 
Step 2: select an environmnetal issue
Step 3: develop an action plan 
Step 4: carry out an action plan 
Step 5: record your project
Step 6: raise awareness


Step 1: Get a team together.

Teams can range between 2-25 individuals. This gives plenty of scope if you wish to split your group into individual teams or get a class / youth group to work together.

What is a good team size? A good group size is 6 young people. If you have one large group, consider breaking them into smaller project groups. This will give students more opportunities to gain a wider variety of skills (presentation skills, research skills etc.).

There is a maximum of 6 young people invited to present at our regional ECO-Dens (March 2013). Class groups may cover the same topic, but consider submitting separate group projects. For younger groups, a class group might be an ideal size. If your group is larger than 6, you can select 6 who will present the project to the ECO Den judges.

There are 3 age categories: SuperJunior: 10-12yrs, Junior: 12-14yrs, Senior: 15-18yrs. ECO-UNESCO usually considers the majority group age.

Consider printing out a team meeting worksheet (YEA manual pg 31) each time your group meets. This will help to record your project from beginning to end.


ACTIVITY 1A: An ideal way to begin is to create a ‘Group contract’. A ‘Group contract’ acts as a set of agreement that each member will keep. Consider asking your group to answer the following question:

How would you like to be treated in this group?
Is there anything else we need to add to our contract?

Ask each group member to sign their name at the bottom.


ACTIVITY 1B: Follow-up this with a ‘Skills analysis’ of your group; each team member thinks about his/her skills and look at the ‘skill-set’ your group has. This also identifies which people have or would like to develop certain skills.  Write a list of all the skills the group members have. Link names to each skill and also consider who would like to develop a skill on the list.

Once a team has been decided, and the skills are known, the environmental issue should be addressed.

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Step 2: Select an environmental issue.

Now your team needs to consider what environmental issue to tackle.

NOTE: Your school/group may have already carried out an environmental project or are in the process of doing something associated with the environment, why not submit it as a Young Environmentalist Awards project?  E.g. Christmas decorations from recycled materials, Halloween costumes from items you had around the house, an area in your community that needs to be cleaned up and replanted, CSPE action projects based on an environmental issue, TY group considering learning a new skill for other awards/programmes. Simply choose an environmental issue and submit your project into the Young Environmentalist Awards.

An environmental issue is an issue related to any part of our environment. It should be noted that environmental issues have environmental, social and political cause and effect.
eg Getting more people
cycling/walking to school. (Make it fun, include the teachers)

Environmental: Saves oil and reduces pollution, reduces traffic jams.
Social: Increases health and well being, saves money.
Political: Councils may need to provide cycle lanes, reduce speed limits around schools at peak times enforce laws/policiese.g. helmets, high visibility etc.

Although environmental issues appear broad, very often they have a local cause and effect. Time should be taken with this step.


ACTIVITY 2: Have a group brainstorm thinking about the following:

  • Your school/centre/community: Advantages and disadvantages of attending your school/centre or living in your area
  • The opportunities for your area… How would you like to see your area in the future?
  • Environmental issue: What issue most interests, concerns or affects you?
  • Action: What action can be done to deal with the issue (think about skills, time and information needed)

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Step 3: Develop an action plan.

Planning will help your project to run smoothly. It can simply be a guideline; it is not set in stone but can be reviewed and adjusted as needs be. It also introduces your young people to the project planning skill. Project planning helps formalise the aims of the project and gives teachers/ leaders a better understanding of what kind of project the young people are interested in.

YEA manual pg 32: Project planning worksheet.

ACTIVITY 3: Here are some questions to consider in developing your plan:

  • What is the project about – an overview?
  • What do you want to do in their project – specific aims?
  • What do you want to achieve from this project personally and for the environment, community?
  • Why do you want to carry out the project?
  • Why are you doing your project on the particular issue chosen?
  • How will the group meet your aims – the objectives or specific tasks of the project?
  • How will the group know when their aims have been achieved?
  • What are the tasks the groups must set out?
  • When should these tasks be completed by?
  • Who is going to carry out the tasks?

Remember: Your plans should be structured around the important Young Environmentalist Award dates (Submission deadline, ECO-DENs, Showcase and Awards Ceremony) and include your own project phase deadlines and timetable)

“Researching and planning was the most important part of the project, although it was difficult. We spent most of our time doing that before we know what we wanted to do”Participant from Presentation College, Tralee

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Step 4: Carry out action plan

At this point your group(s) will have a general idea of the environmental issue they wish to take action on and how they are going to carry out their project. Action plans are individualised, as no groups are the same, no groups’ skill sets are the same and no schools/youth group are the same. Each project will have differences. There are some notes below on this step, or simply encourage your group to get started on carrying out their plan. If you need further help/support with this stage please contact yea@ecounesco.ie.

ACTIVITY 4: One important aspect to an environmental issue is to make links between cause and effect. In this way, an action can be taken on the cause, making a real impact.
YEA manual pg 35: resource for teachers/leaders & 36 worksheet for young people: Looking at cause and effect.

The aim of this step:

  • To help team(s) decide on an action
  • To help teams identify cause and effect for their issue
  • To identify further information needed
  • To provide teams opportunity for reflection and review of their plan in light of new information
  • To introduce tools for action research

Remember to review your project plan once you have gathered all your information. 

Some suggestions… the actions taken should be:

Visible – Will your project have a direct positive effect on the environment
Manageable– Is your project plan simple, your group well organised, have you considered time and dates?
Concrete – Does your group should know how and why they are taking certain actions; how does each action relate to the rest of their project, how will their actions benefit the local community and their local environment /Global environment
Sustainable – Will/Can the groups’ actions have long term prospects? i.e. can be carried on after the YEA project has been submitted or have long term benefits Involved

Note: actions can involve other people from outside the group

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Step 5: Record your project.

As projects and action plans are individualised, each group decides how they record their project. (Think about this at the planning stage)

ACTIVITY 5:Here are some questions to assist in a group brainstorming:

How do we want to record our project?
How do we want to communicate our environmental issue?

Print out YEA manual pg 38: Communication worksheet.

  • IDEAS: 
  • Full written report
  • Vieo Diary 
  • Facebook/ website
  • Photo scrap book 
  • CD ROM
  • Project Diary
  • Song/ music 
  • Drama 
  • Art (sculpture/ fashion piece, etc)
  • Posters
  • Flyers 

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Step 6: Raise awareness.

Raising awareness in a YEA project does not have to be seen as an end point to the project. Awareness raising can be on going throughout the life of the project. The purpose of this part of the YEA project is to develop communication skills and confidence in young people. There are a number of ways in which people can be contacted. This will depend on the stage of the project, the objective behind the communication and the needs of the team involved.

ACTIVITY 6:Some suggestions on awareness raising:

  • Contacting and interviewing relevant people for information
  • Carrying out surveys or competitions
  • Making presentations to other school groups/classes, other schools/groups in your area.
  • Inviting guest speakers
  • Contacting local business for sponsorship
  • Contacting local authority / government officials
  • Contacting local media
  • Displaying the project in a range of venues (schools, community centres, library, town centres, shopping centres etc)
  • Hosting open days or ECO days which co-incide with national or international environment days such as: Earth Day, Buy Nothing Day, UN Environmental Day, Car Free Day, Energy Awareness Week , Heritage Week, Tree Week etc..

The team should be very clear why they are contacting certain individuals. It may be necessary for the team to think about this before they start to make contact. Some examples are given below.

Why raise awareness and what should groups raise awareness about?

  • To tell people about the project – its aims and objectives
  • To give people information about the environmental issue
  • To get people actively involved and co-operating with the project
  • To highlight an environmental issue and ask people to take an action
  • To highlight the results of the project with officials
  • To network with other interested groups/ individuals

“I really like that other people who live around here stopped to say what we were doing was brilliant”, Participant from Ronanstown Youth Service.

Register for your free support pack with additional guidance on carrying out your Young Environmentalist Awards project.