Highland schools to get educational boost

The project has been running for three years.
The project has been running for three years.
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THE Highland Seashore Biodiversity project has encouraged and enthused knowledge about Highland Seashores since 2013, finds Seren Ullman.

The Highland Seashore Biodiversity project has been providing training, community events and seashore based activities around the Highlands for the past three years.

The project, also runs the ‘Seashore activities for clubs and schools’ website which offers a variety of educational activities.

The page is the creation of work experience volunteer Jack Johnston, in collaboration with project coordinator Janet Ullman and local rangers to the area.

Jack said: “The goal of this page is to promote activities which anyone can use to educate children about the seashore. I spent months putting together these fun activities, ensuring that they fit into the current curriculum for excellence.”

The Highland Seashore Biodiversity Project has staged a number of events over the past three years, and hosts a website full of resources for anyone to use.

8,000 people attended their festivals.

Janet Ullman, Highland Seashore Project Coordinator. said: “The beauty of the project was that it was able to have events across the full spectrum of human interest. This ranged from pure natural history with its citizen science element of training seashore surveyors, to seaside family fun roadshows with sustainable seafood stalls and demos, stories from the sea, and sculpture competitions, rock pooling and touch tanks.

“It was always our goal to leave people with the skills to continue their involvement, but before you can create a citizen scientist you must relate to them, interpret the natural world for them, successfully. Which is what we have achieved through our events.

“The trick is not to produce a fancy teachers pack or website coupled with a series of one off visits, this does not produce change. You need to furnish teachers with something useful, a cross curricular CfE [Curriculum for excellence] approach to education with linked prep and follow up work. That is what we have created here, and what we are leaving available for free.”

The project does not only offer great opportunity’s across the highlands for locals, schools and clubs but also opened a door for the involvement of volunteers, offering them an amazing chance to gain experience.

Jack said: “I was honoured to be given this opportunity. Creating the page gave me a chance not only to hone my skills as an educator but also to be creative.”

Janet Ullman added: “The great thing about the Highland Seashore Project is it took every aspect of the Seashore Project to local communities and engaged at every level and interest. We supported our volunteers through so many people and we supported our partners.”

“It is a shame that the project is closing. Traditionally most volunteers retired, but we are now seeing younger volunteers because they are desperate for experience as they can’t just graduate and get a job, they need experience too. The risk with these projects is that they threaten to become not opportunities but part of the reason why finances are dwindling for actual paid work. With the Highland Seashore project we supported our volunteers not just in their time with us but in supplying references for them to benefit from that time and actually get a paid job.”

With funding cuts across the environmental spectrum, it is unknown whether another project like this one will occur again.

However after the closing ceremony in Inverness on the 19th of March the Highland Seashore Biodiversity Projects website shall remain accessible to all, offering the opportunity to continue getting involved in Biodiversity across Scotland.

You can visit the Highland Seashore Biodiversity Project website here; http://www.highlandbiodiversity.com/