The Lake District Foundation supported a project which sees young people experiencing nature and exploring potential careers in the countryside.
The sessions opened a door on the great outdoors, inviting students to immerse themselves in nature, building skills and confidence in safe surroundings.
We spoke to Marion Brown from Rusland Horizons about the success of two ‘bushcraft days’ which saw young people, with limited access to nature, learning countryside skills from yesteryear.
Tell us about the work of Rusland Horizons.
Marion: “Rusland Horizons Trust is a charitable community trust. It relies on, and welcomes, the support of its local community and members and is proud to work alongside them to achieve a Living Landscape, Thriving Community within the unique and beautiful Rusland valley.
“Rusland Horizon’s conservation work manages and enables nature recovery and regeneration, protecting precious habitats which are home to many fascinating, and sometimes rare, wildlife and ecosystems.
“This is done through practical conservation activities supported by members, local communities in the Rusland valley, volunteers and via outreach projects such as the Broadening Horizons initiative with Furness College.”
Tell us about the bushcraft days which Lake District Foundation supported.
Marion “The bushcraft days were an opportunity to immerse the students in the countryside and woodlands of the Rusland valley. They enabled those who might not usually spend much time in the outdoors to build confidence within this environment and encourage interaction with the countryside on an ongoing basis.
“Organised in partnership with Woodmatters, the bushcraft days helped the young people deepen their connection with nature through learning a number of every-day primitive skills used thousands of years ago, such as tracking, fire lighting and whittling.
“The students also learned greenwood skills and made spatulas by whittling off-cuts of wood and using simple tools. There was also the chance to help with a charcoal burn, making barbecue charcoal in the woods using a kiln.
The students not only got hands-on learning new skills but they were encouraged to explore and connect with nature in many different ways.
“It is hoped that this new appreciation for the woodland landscape will encourage them to continue with their interest in nature, be protective of it and possibly volunteer for an organisation like Rusland Horizons in the future.”
Why is it important for young people to get out into nature?
Marion: “The threat of climate change, loss of biodiversity and the importance of prioritising nature are messages that our young people are all too familiar with. Very often they are the ones leading the way, calling for action to protect and conserve our landscapes, habitats, wildlife and communities.
“Time spent in nature and the great outdoors has numerous benefits for all of us. For some young people with limited access to the outdoors, due to economic disadvantage, this can be magnified.
“Our aim is to remove the barriers that prevent disadvantaged young people having the opportunity to experience what many of us take for granted.
“This includes providing transport from towns to the countryside and providing a safe place to experience nature. In addition to the physical gains that can be achieved, such as improved health and mental well-being, the opportunity to be immersed in nature can be, for some, life changing, building new skills and confidence.
“Nature and our environment is at a critical point and our young people are vital in ensuring the protection of our natural world. Engaging them, educating them and allowing them the opportunity to experience all that nature has to offer, will help to show the immense benefits nature can provide and hopefully instill a sense of protection towards it.”
Learn more about Rusland Horizons
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