October was the month of the people – I worked with so many different community groups, school kids, and my fellow TCV trainees at our annual meet up at TCV’s Skelton Grange. There seems to be a lot coming together for the end of the year, with new and exciting projects on the horizon. The 2018 Natural Talent traineeships were posted a few months ago and closing date has just passed. There will be a good crossover period between myself and the new Pond mud snail trainee so it is a chance for me to mentor someone through the initial stages, and share my experience so far!
H I G H L I G H T S
They did the mash…
So first up was a taster session for the idea which I have been creating as part of my TCV Project which needs to be completed in the final 6 months. The Southside Communities in Nature project would include areas across the South of Glasgow, connecting groups of young people with their local greenspaces and would work on a drama performance for a big final show in a special outdoor setting. This final event would include a showcase event of all grassroots, environmental, and charity organisations in the area. Importantly one of the main aims of the project is to include refugee families living in the area, in the hope of integrating the children from these families with the local groups I will be working with. Every week the rehearsals for the performance will be held in a different Glasgow park/ outdoor space and will include drama themed activities, plus wildlife based learning: including citizen science surveys, bug hunts, and identification of common species.
As part of this I ran a taster session on wildlife themed drama games for 3-5 year old with the Southside branch of Woodcraft Folk, an after school organisation for kids ages 3 – teenage. This went incredibly well, the group are very welcoming and enthusiastic, and we even got around to playing ‘Monster Mash’ as you can see below. This is a twist on the usual drawing game, folding A4 paper three times and passing among the groups (with adult help) to draw head, body and legs. The idea was to create a monster collectively and then add facts and build a storyline from the artistic skills which had been put down on paper.
From children to adults, my October took me to something I’d been working on for some time – hosting a TCV Training Course of my own based on the themes in the project. ‘Integrating Drama and Performance with Nature’ was a free pilot course in Stirling which was well-attended and I believe from the feedback, well received. Over the course of the day I held an indoor and outdoor practical session and tried to give a varied outlook on how to include both creative arts, and more science based wildlife and nature elements to run great activities and sessions with kids. The issue of confidence and loss of connection to wild places was something which I focused on as I believe that better access to both these areas will have a beneficial impact on young people.
Buglife in the community
I was able to get out and about in Glasgow, hosting a stall on behalf of Buglife Scotland and TCV at the Lambhill Stables family open day. The hub of the old stable building sits beside the canal and at the entrance to Possil Marsh Wildlife Reserve. I was based in their ‘Get into Nature’ space for the day alongside various other conservation and outdoor organisations such as Froglife and Butterfly Conservation. I took some pebble bug craft activities, mask-making and scavenger hunts, and was so happy to have a packed stall for the whole day., over 200 people passed through. This event is just one of many which I’m able to attend as part of the traineeship, focusing on getting out into the community and spreading the world about how people can get involved in volunteering or just bringing a little bit of nature (and some cool bug facts) to an audience who might not seek it out, or have access to otherwise.
It was nearly the end of a busy month (and nearly Halloween) but there was still lots to do in the form of the TCV trainees annual meet up in Leeds! We travelled down from Stirling to meet the three other trainees who are based in Liverpool, Shrewsbury and Cardiff to discuss plans for our end of year showcase, brush up on some essential skills, eat too many slices of pizza and share our wisdom of the past 6 months. What’s more, this was a camping only event, so it was out with the thermals and down sleeping bags for what turned out to be a cosy night despite a storm brewing outside. It was a good chance to reflect on the madness of the past 6 months, and get us all together in one room to plan for the TCV Natural Talent showcase in 2018 – watch this space for more details.
To round off, once back up in Scotland it was time to assist some Buglife colleagues in a plug planting and seed sowing event with primary school children from Falkirk and Camelon. These activities are part of the Falkirk and John Muir Pollinator Way, projects which Bugflife Scotland, alongside partner organisations, is implementing this year. The idea is to create a corridor of healthy habitat which will attract bees, wasps, beetles, butterflies and hoverflies come the season to pollinate their was across the rich landscape.
With the help of the children from Hallglen Primary and Carmuirs Primary we were preparing areas which will hopefully, come Spring, be blooming with colour and pollinator friendly wildflowers and plants.
Until next time…
Be sure to follow what I’m up to on Twitter, and check out TCV Natural Talent for an update on my fellow trainees.
Thanks to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for funding this brilliant programme. Find out more about them here.
Also to Buglife Scotland for hosting my placement. Keep up with all the amazing work they are doing and support the small things!