Pupils from Balfron and McLaren High School swapped their school uniform for waterproofs as they trained to become National Park Junior Rangers.
Over the last few weeks S2 and S3 pupils from Balfron High School and S3 pupils from McLaren High School spent time learning about the varied skills needed and challenges involved in being a Ranger in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.
They were taking part in the fifth year of the National Park Authority’s successful Junior Ranger programme.
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 once again welcome pupils from Balfron and McLaren High School to our Junior Ranger Programme.
“Increasing opportunities for young people to engage with nature and enjoy the great outdoors is one of the key aims in our National Park Partnership Plan and 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 visited Balmaha and Inchcailloch, learning about the geography and history of the island as well as experiencing the wildlife. They also climbed Ben A’an and a section of Ben Lomond with the support of The Mountains and The People project to help clear the water bars on the paths to improve access.
Stuart Youens, a Geography Teacher at Balfron High School said: “The Junior Ranger course is excellent – the pupils enjoyed being out and about in the National Park and have learnt a lot about the running and management of such a fascinating area.”
Pupils from Balfron High school were supported by Jim Riach from the Trossachs E-bike Demonstration Project to cycle around Loch Venachar, learning all about the positive impacts of being physically active in the National Park. Whilst pupils from McLaren High School lent a helping hand to the Trossachs Water Vole Project at Loch Ard and enjoyed a canoe expedition.
Steven Kent, an S3 pupil from McLaren High School said: “The Junior Ranger programme has allowed me to develop skills for life and has added to my knowledge of the National Park and Scotland.”
The work that the Junior Rangers do will also help 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.
For further information on Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority education materials and programmes visit www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/learning