Teenage birdwatcher to receive honorary doctorate

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Mya-Rose Craig is being awarded the degree for her activism and campaigns for more diversity in the conservation and environmental sectors.

Mya-Rose Craig with Sir David Attenborough

A teenage birdwatcher who campaigns for greater diversity in the conservation and environmental sectors is to be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bristol.

Mya-Rose Craig, 17, will receive the Doctor of Science degree in February – three months before she sits her A-level exams.

She is believed to be the youngest person to be given such an award, with education campaigner Malala Yousafzai receiving a Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh aged 16 in 2013.

Mya-Rose, from Compton Martin in Somerset, has been a keen ornithologist for almost all of her life and is the youngest person to see half of the world’s bird species.

The student, known as BirdGirlUK on Twitter, began running nature camps for visible minority ethnic (VME) teenagers when she was just 13.

Mya-Rose Craig, 17, who is to be awarded an honorary doctorate
Mya-Rose Craig, 17, who is to be awarded an honorary doctorate (Family handout/PA)

She has given more than 50 talks, organised two conferences and written numerous articles in her fight for equal access to the natural environment for such communities.

Mya-Rose was nominated for the honorary degree by Dr Rich Pancost, head of earth sciences at the University of Bristol.


Dr Pancost said: “Although only 17, Mya-Rose has already created a phenomenal amount of positive change for nature and is a fantastic role model for her peers.

“In addition to being a world-leading ornithologist, she has delivered over 50 inspirational talks and is a passionate advocate for the need to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in both the conservation sector and the climate change movement.

“We are proud of her links to Bristol and delighted to present her with an honorary degree next month.”


In his nomination, Dr Pancost described how Mya-Rose “epitomises courage” in her challenge of the conservation and environmental sectors to tackle diversity.

He said her enthusiasm on Twitter had inspired so many to take an interest in wildlife and “enjoy the beauty of nature while protecting its fragility”.

Both Dr Pancost and Mya-Rose will make speeches when she is presented with her honorary degree on February 20.

The teenager is currently studying English literature, Spanish and media studies at A-level and will sit her exams in May.

She plans to take a gap year before going to university to study politics and international relations.

“I felt so emotional hearing that I had been nominated with such famous people and realising that my message must be getting through,” Mya-Rose said.

Mya-Rose Craig will be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bristol
Mya-Rose Craig will be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bristol (Family handout/PA)

“It feels strange that I will receive an honorary doctorate of science before I have taken my A-levels.”

In 2016, Mya-Rose organised a conference entitled Race Equality in Nature, which was attended by 90 people.

She is now planning another conference, focusing on how to make wildlife films relevant to VME communities.

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