THE NEXT GENERATION OF CONSERVATION

Image credit: Ardroy OEC

Our partnership with the John Muir Trust is helping to support people as they experience wild places.

Earlier this year when we launched our sustainable Peak & Wild coffee, we did so with a commitment to helping 2,500 young people achieve their John Muir Award over the next 3 years.

With that in mind, we asked the good folks at the John Muir Trust to give us a little more information on the award itself, and to highlight some examples the difference our funding can make to individuals and the wider community.

What is the John Muir Award?

The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme that inspires people to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places. It also encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment through a structured yet adaptable scheme, in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration.

Every year, a diverse range of organisations get involved in the John Muir Award – from schools and colleges to youth centres, mental health, community groups and more.

Toby Clark, John Muir Award Scotland Manager at the John Muir Trust said, “At a time when concern for nature and the environment is on the increase, the John Muir Award helps people benefit from and advocate for wild places. It can help to create stepping-stones for anyone to experience, enjoy and engage with wild places, sometimes for the first time. But it also helps to empower people to take positive action and make a difference for their benefit and the benefit of the planet.”

A recent Education Scotland Report highlights the learning benefits of wild places to communities and society – especially those who experience disadvantage. And the John Muir Award featured in several of the report's case studies that demonstrated effective practice for high quality outdoor learning.

A teacher at the school said: “The John Muir Award gives us an ideal framework to base the planned developments. It empowers children to go out with curiosity and see what they can learn and, most importantly, what they can teach others about what they discover about our wood."

Glasgow Kelvin College

Students on the Personal Achievement course at Glasgow Kelvin College have been working to help improve biodiversity across a range of city greenspaces as part of their Explorer Award.

Through a partnership with Glasgow City Council Countryside Rangers, the group developed their skills through a range of projects, spending over 750 hours on practical conservation activities from ‘flower power’ initiatives aimed at helping create and restore wildflower meadows across the city, to woodland restoration projects.

Throughout the previous academic year, they shared their progress updates via the John Muir Award Record eBook, culminating in a fire side event in May to celebrate everyone’s achievements.

GLASGOW AREA STATS Jan-June 2022

Participants achieved their John Muir Award

Organisations were involved in delivering the Award

Of awards achieved were by participants experiencing disadvantage

Award participants in Glasgow contributed over 9,902 hours of conservation activity, helping wild places to thrive

School children in Wales making a difference for nature

School children in Wales have been making a difference for nature in their local community through the John Muir Award. Pupils at Ysgol Aberconway recently completed their Award with an overnight camp at Bod Silin, Conwy. Whilst there, they worked hard clearing invasive species like rhododendron and planting native rowan trees.

School pupils at Ysgol Gwernant in Llangollen have been working towards their John Muir Award by becoming ‘Outdoor Explorers’ discovering and learning more about nature in their school grounds, as well as local woodland, rivers and heritage sites.

With the support of John Muir Trust staff, pupils collectively spent 240 hours on conservation activities -  planting wildflower seeds for pollinators, recycling plastic bottles into bird feeders and creating a bug hotel within the school field for different types of insects. As part of their ongoing activities, they plan to work with local organisations to learn about how students can make an impact on local conservation projects and reduce climate change.

Image credit: © Phil Hatcher-Moore

Without Walls - Supporting mental wellbeing through nature

Education Futures Trust, a charity in Hastings uses the John Muir Award as the focus of their Without Walls initiative, a 10-week survival course with a conservation focus. The initiative aims to build resilience and self-confidence for participants, increase understanding of the rich local environment and support individuals to engage in volunteering. One participant shared her story.

“I started the Without Walls course in 2019…my psychologist hoped I would achieve the ability to manage the anxiety and PTSD that had rendered me incapable of working or rarely leaving the house at the age of 38. I took part in two John Muir Award courses regaining my love of nature and embracing the healing effects being in nature had to offer. I went on to volunteer doing conservation at Hastings Country Park and have just got a job as a Trainee Warden for Kent Wildlife Trust. I wholeheartedly know this would not have been made possible if I hadn't attended the John Muir Award course at Without Walls.”

Sacro’s Garden Project

Image credit: @GardenSacro

The Award doesn’t only benefit young people. The community justice organisation, Sacro has been supporting Scotland's military veterans and their families through outdoor activities and building connections with nature to benefit physical and mental health.

The Sacro Garden Project offers individuals aged 18+ who face barriers to employment and social inclusion the opportunity to learn and develop new skills. As part of working towards their John Muir Award, the veterans group visited a wide range of wild places, and helped with practical improvements, such as planting trees and wildflowers, to encourage wildlife to thrive in Tollcross and Bellahouston Parks.

If you want to learn more about our partnership with the John Muir Trust and our Peak & Wild coffee, simply click here.

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