A group of common starlings and a peregrine falcon


Love for nature often starts at a young age. I myself was already into animal books when I was a toddler and knew I wanted to be a biologist before I was ten.

Still, I hadn’t been out in nature much until I was eleven, especially during holidays in France, Italy and Norway. Beautiful memories of red kites, red shrikes, an osprey over a stream and a bullfinch that perched on moss a few feet behind me.

I mainly knew nature in the Netherlands from books. Until my father met someone whose son was a member of the Dutch Youth Association for Nature Study (NJN). For me that was life-changing.

And so I was not yet twelve when I experienced my first excursions with the NJN – department Deventer. I saw birds that I only knew from bird books. Those beautiful pintails just swam on the Bolwerksweide between Deventer and Wilp! What an eye opener that was!

Fantastic years with like-minded teens in nature and friendships followed. Especially nature around Deventer, but also camps, such as a department camp in Bentheim, regional camp on the Veluwe, bird work group camps on Terschelling and at the Hondsbossche Zeewering. Except for the Hondsbossche, everything by bike!

I continued to watch pintails and many more birds with other young birdwatchers on the Bolwerksweide until I started studying biology in Utrecht.

The NJN is an association for and by young people aged 11 to 25 who like to go into nature. Together on fantastic camps and excursions with different themes: birds, bats, butterflies, plants, sea creatures, you name it! Especially their 10-day summer camps are always a great success.

The seed of love for nature cannot be planted early enough. If your child loves nature, take a look at the website of the NEDERLANDSE JEUGDBOND VOOR NATUURSTUDIE or JONGEREN IN DE NATUUR, the JNM, former name Jeugdbond voor Natuur- en Milieustudie, the Youth Association for Nature and Environmental Studies.