Thanks once again for coming to read my blog. Apologies in advice as it’s going to be even longer this time, but worth it to read about A Birkenhead girl’s misadventures in Kilmarnock, no?
New Scottish wonders I have discovered since I last wrote: Tattie scones (so good!), the word stookie and greetin’ and my new midge friends 😉
Our traineeship allows us the opportunity to pursue all sorts of relevant training of our own choosing. For me this has included a day of seed growing and muddy hands at an RHS edible school garden course, a day of tree ID, pond exploration and worm bothering with muddy hands at an OPAL surveys training session and a pretty intense 2 day course learning the gory ins and outs of Outdoor First Aid (muddy hands not allowed!). So if you’re ever in need of a head bandage, I’m your girl! I’ve also snuck in some fabulous FSC courses and expanded my knowledge of the plant world. This included a stint at Millport to learn all about grasses, sedges and rushes and also a long weekend at Kindrogan to enter the shady world of ferns (and to also see my first red squirrel! So, so amazing!)
In May I’d excitedly packed my little bags and headed to Cumbria for a fantastic week in the most beautiful of Bluebell woods, to kick off my course in Forest School Leadership. It was an inspiring week, myself and my fellow schoolees learnt all about the Forest School ethos and how beneficial it can be, in fact we all felt it firsthand. We improved our ID skills, were introduced to animal tracking and practiced our bush craft skills like fire lighting and den building. We also got to use all manner of tools to whittle and chop and saw things into vaguely identifiable objects. We created, discovered, played, explored and all emerged from the experience feeling like fully fledged people of the woods. I don’t know if you can tell, but I thoroughly loved it. I still to this day annoy Carolyn with my repeated story telling of my time there. I’m working through my assignments for the time being and will be heading back in December for a wintery version of the training week
I’ve also attended lots of events, sessions and assisted with other group’s projects. This includes helping the TCV team from Jupiter and their work experience trainees install tern rafts at Bothkenner Lagoons, assisting Jen Dunn from the East Ayrshire Coalfield Environment Initiative on a Hen Harrier star species day with an enthusiastic P5 from Muirkirk Primary and led a session with my fellow trainee Giovanna for WSREC at the Children’s Wood in Glasgow. Some of the events I’ve helped with include the RSPB bioblitz at Duddingston, a Gala day in Denny and Dunipace, a nature playday at Easterhouse and also our very own event at the East Ayrshire Play event in Kay Park, Kilmarnock.
From April onward, Carolyn and I began our ‘pilot project’. We brainstormed ideas and ways of increasing outdoor education within the curriculum (any old excuse to indulge our mind map obsession), met with head teachers and delivered outdoor sessions in schools. In Patna Primary I worked with the Early Childhood Centre whilst Carolyn worked with the Supported Learning Group, delivering sessions based around senses (planting smelly flowers and tickly plants). We also worked with Patna Primary’s P6, St Xavier’s Primary’s P4-7 and Bellsbank Primary’s P6/7 over a number of weeks. We did a range of activities with the different classes ranging from environmental games to surveying mini-beasts and lichen to creating arts and crafts and making bird and butterfly feeders. All the while we were trying to find out if and what the barriers might be to outdoor learning and how we might overcome them
In July we (the whole Natural Networks/Talent crew) got to meet up for a ‘half way through’ catch up. I was especially excited as we were meeting at the wonderful Skelton Grange in Leeds, which is where I began my TCV journey as a volunteer officer. It is a mini green oasis tucked away in the middle of an industrial estate and a treasure to the primary schools of Leeds who attend year after year. I’m convinced there should be one in every city. It was a great opportunity to hear first hand from the other trainees what they have been up to and what they plan to do next.
So that was my summer in a nutshell! There are exciting times ahead and a new project about to start….but more about that soon.
Thanks for reading again