For the first time since the programme began, school pupils from the Vale of Leven Academy take part in the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority’s Junior Rangers programme.
Over the last month, seven pupils aged between 14 – 17 years old spent time learning about the varied skills needed and challenges involved in being a Ranger, as they took part in the fourth year of the National Park Authority’s successful Schools Junior Ranger programme.
This is the first time that pupils from the Vale of Leven Academy have taken part in the programme, which was only possible thanks to the support of Forest Holidays. As part of a partnership with the UK’s National Parks, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is one of three pilot National Parks to benefit from a £5,000 contribution from Forest Holidays towards education work specifically for young people.
The National Park Authority provides a wide range of materials and educational programmes to schools to help connect young people to the outdoors and give them an appreciation and respect for wild places. The Junior Ranger 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 balancing conservation and environmental protection, with welcoming visitors and the needs of residents.
Ali Cush, Education and Inclusion Adviser at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, said, “It has been fantastic to welcome pupils from the Vale of Leven Academy to our Junior Ranger Programme especially during the Year of Young People.
“During the week the group met with Pauline Lynch, a Forest Ranger for Forest Holidays, which was a really great way for the organisation to see the support they have given the programme in action.
“Increasing opportunities for young people to engage with nature and enjoy the great outdoors is one of the key aims in our recently launched National Park Partnership Plan. Our Junior Ranger Programme helps those taking part to get a better understanding of the National Park and experience just what it is like to look after this special place.”
During their training, the Junior Rangers joined the Forest Holidays Forest Ranger in a survival challenge, cleared the waterbars and footpath of Ben Lomond, learnt about the Fen habitat at the RSPB Scotland Loch Lomond reserve, and helped with a marine litter pick at Ardgartan.
Pauline Lynch, Forest Ranger for Forest Holidays said: “It was a genuine privilege to work with the Junior Rangers, and inspiring to see them so enthused by the beauty of the National Park. It’s so important for young people to connect with their natural surroundings and hopefully we’ll see some of the Junior Rangers become fully fledged Forest Rangers in the future.
“Today’s Junior Rangers will in turn inspire future generations to understand, enjoy and care for our diverse wildlife and unique landscape in the National Park.”
Dean Anderson, an S6 pupil from the Vale of Leven Academy who took part in the programme said: “It was a fun experience being a Junior Ranger; it was also great to learn about what a Ranger in the National Park does.”
The work that the Junior Rangers carried out helped to support the pupils to complete their John Muir Award. The Award is an environmental award that encourages people of all backgrounds to connect, enjoy and care for wild places, and develop an understanding of, and responsibility for, a chosen wild place or places.
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park works closely with the John Muir Trust to help thousands of young people achieve a John Muir Award in the National Park every year. To achieve a John Muir Award, individuals must meet four challenges:
For further information on Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority education materials and programmes visit www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/learning