Last week 11 pupils from Dunoon Grammar school took part in the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Junior Ranger programme for the very first time.
Now in its fifth year, the programme delivers a unique hands-on experience for young people, allowing them to develop an understanding of nature in the National Park and understanding the challenges of balancing conservation and environmental protection, with welcoming visitors and the needs of residents.
The pupils also spent two nights at Rowardennan Youth Hostel, another first for the Junior Ranger programme, giving the young people a fully immersive experience.
Ali Cush, Education and Inclusion Adviser at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, said, “We’re delighted to welcome pupils from Dunoon Grammar school to our Junior Ranger programme. Opening up more opportunities for young people to experience the National Park and all the health benefits it brings is one of our key aims so it’s been fantastic to have another school taking part.
“The programme emphasises fun, adventure and team building while also developing both communication skills and confidence in the outdoors.”
The pupils took part in a range of activities, including walking part of Ben Lomond, learning about the work of the National Trust for Scotland and helping to clear the cross drains and water-bars on the path. The group also visited Inchcailloch to explore the island and learn about visitor management and sustainable tourism.
The activities provided real nature conservation work and experiences while giving the pupils a flavour of the work undertaken by the Ranger service across the National Park.
At the end of the five day programme, pupils were presented with a John Muir Award in recognition of their achievements. The nationally recognised award is the main engagement initiative of the John Muir Trust and encourages people of all backgrounds to connect with, enjoy and take responsibility for wild places.
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority works closely with the John Muir Trust to help thousands of young people achieve a John Muir Award in the National Park every year.
John Dyer, a Geography teacher at Dunoon Grammar School, said: “This has been a fantastic experience for our young people, learning all about the great work being carried out by the National Park.
“They have also gained valuable life lessons about the importance of health and wellbeing and the conservation of our unique Scottish environment.”
Earlier this month, pupils from the Vale of Leven Academy also took part in the Junior Ranger programme spending time at the RSPB Reserve Loch Lomond learning practical conservation skills as well as taking part in a bush craft challenge in Callander.
For further information on Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority education materials and programmes visit www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/learning.