Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 13.03.38Sixth Form students across Northumberland who might be considering a career in conservation or the environment are being encouraged to take part in a special project led by Northumberland National Park as part of a range of new educational activities connected to The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre.

The Sill was awarded £7.75 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2015, its purpose is to open up the landscapes of Northumberland National Park and surrounding areas to a broad range of new people including children, families, and those who are less confident at exploring natural places.

To meet this challenge, a comprehensive programme of interpretation, educational and participatory activities is being rolled out to inspire people to discover, celebrate, value and conserve the unique natural and cultural heritage of the landscape.

The ‘New Naturalist’ education project is one of these activities. It has been specially designed to give young people in the county a unique learning opportunity where they can gain practical experience and pick up a range of different field skills connected to exploring and discovering the natural environment within the Park.

On completion of the project participants will receive the nationally acclaimed John Muir Award.

Shaun Hackett, Northumberland National Park Ranger, is leading the programme, he said: “New Naturalist’s is another exciting and inspiring educational activity connected to The Sill.

“We believe that young people should have the opportunity to enjoy learning and use the National Park to deliver mainstream education subjects through real-life examples which inform and inspire.

“The aim of New Naturalists is to give young people the opportunity to experience different field skills relating to exploring and discovering the natural environment. The programme covers a range of species and topics in a variety of habitats found within the Park.

“We hope that by taking part, the experience will inspire and help to guide students in seeking further education and employment in this area. Everyone who takes part will get a great understanding of protected areas, landscapes, species and the role of the Northumberland National Park in land management and conservation.”

All of the programme sessions cover basic ecology, survey techniques and identification.  Participants will learn identification of common species and skills that will help them achieve a basic level of competency in Naturalist field skills.

On completion of the course two options of the John Muir Award are available – 1) Discovery Award (4 days minimum participation) and 2) Explorer Award (8 days minimum participation. Both awards will cover the elements of discover, explore, conserve and share.

The ‘New Naturalist’ sessions are free and delivered by experienced National Park rangers and volunteers. Materials and equipment are provided. If you are interested in taking part or have any questions please contact:shaun.hackett@nnpa.org.uk