As the school year comes to a close Ian Johnson, Educational Officer for conservation charity Groundwork, reflects on the impact of Bettys Seedlings at Schools programme over the last two years:
In this day and age it’s important that children still have the opportunity to explore and investigate outside and learn about the natural world around them. If we want our children to value and look after where they live then we need to develop within them an appreciation and joy for the outside environment.
For a host of reasons children aren’t as connected to nature as previous generations – indeed a two-year study funded by the government highlighted the fact that more than 1 in 9 children haven’t set foot in a park, forest, beach or any other natural environment for the last 12 months. Bettys & Taylors has a long passion for planting and protecting trees, and for the last two years have been working with Groundwork to excite Yorkshire school children about nature – and in particular the importance of trees.
In all, I’ve worked with 24 primary schools and delivered over 500 hours of tree-related lessons since Seedlings at Schools began. The classroom activities themselves vary depending on the school’s needs, the outdoor space available, the time of year and the ideas of the children, but have included:
- gathering seeds from native trees and planting them to see if they grow into new trees. We have then used these trees to plant in other schools to grow new hedgerows or mini woods.
- hunting for natural treasure around school grounds and then created fantastic art designs, either outside on the grass or on collage shapes for the children to take home.
- helping local wildlife by constructing bird boxes and making different types of bird feeders to help the birds through the difficult winter months.
There are many other tree themed activities and as part of the project I’ve produced a resource pack which can be downloaded from here.
The schools have wholeheartedly taken to the project, giving time and commitment to allow their pupils to take part whilst also working closely with me to plan and coordinate the sessions. My thanks go to all the schools who’ve participated in Seedlings at Schools over the last two years and I am looking forward to working with some of them again in year three and also meeting new schools.