Project: Gombe 60 – In Touch with Nature
*Participating Roots & Shoots schools & groups:
‘Andover Youth Shoots’ (now called ‘Nature in Harmony Exchange Project’) – Andover CofE Primary School – Harrow Way Community School – Portway Junior School – Vernham Dean Gillums Primary School – Appleshaw St Peters Primary School
This project aimed to connect young people to the natural world in a practical manner to involve, inform and inspire. By directly engaging them in practical action, the project further aimed to teach the young people to survey rare habitats within a community-managed woodland (school pupils and youth team), and to create a new, biodiverse, learning-in-nature-space called the Habitat’s Trail (youth team).
What we did:
- Wildlife surveying with youth and school groups.
Children visited Harmony Woods in the spring and summer of 2021. They were invited to spend
half a day with a graduate ecologist, who took them on an educational walk, taught them how to
identify plants and animals from British woodland habitats and how to carry out wildlife surveys.
They then made their way to a previously unmonitored area, where it was their job to become ecologists for the day. They carried out quadrat surveys and recorded the diversity and abundance of the
wildflowers and grasses. Their aim was to help discover what lives and grows in Harmony Woods.
- Comparing our wood with Gombe – what lives and grows in each
In school, children researched the work of Dr Jane Goodall and Gombe and used this to write fact files.
- Improving Harmony Wood for nature and learning
After the baseline survey had been carried out, the youth team ‘Nature in Harmony Exchange Project’ (formerly, ‘Andover Youth Shoots’) helped to excavate and build an extension to the wildlife pond and sow wildflower seed around the margins and in the adjacent newly created meadow. This will form part of a new Habitat’s Trail, a learning in nature space, open for all to visit. It will help to develop the wood as the hub of the charity’s work and a local centre for schools, youth groups and community groups to engage in field studies and outdoor learning.
This is what you helped us achieve:
- 8 half-day school visits (6 in the wood, 2 in schools) involving 170 children & young people aged 5-15
- 6 youth volunteers aged 14-16 years trained in species monitoring techniques over 6 monthly 2-hour workshops
- 12 youth volunteers aged 14-17 worked with a graduate ecologist for a day, assisting in the creation of a wildlife pond and wildflower meadow
- 500 new data points for the Nature in Harmony database, further Increasing information about and understanding of our 44-acre woodland. The data has been uploaded to Living Record, where it will join the national biodiversity database
Feedback from participants:
- ‘I loved looking in the grass, I found beetles.’
- ‘I loved the beautiful flowers, they gleamed like sunshine and it was so fun. My favourite was the Birdsfoot Trefoil. I wish I could go back sometime.’
- ‘I loved Harmony woods! I didn’t know there were plants like the Yellow Rattle and Birdsfoot Trefoil.’
- ‘I had a lovely time at Harmony Wood. I loved looking for the leaves and flowers so much. I liked going in the grass.’
- ‘I loved the skylark. I liked its song … it was pretty.’
- ‘My favourite part of Harmony woods was when we looked at the different flowers.’
- ‘My favourite thing was when we identified species of flowers. My favourite were Oxeye daisies.’
- ‘I really enjoyed using the quadrats to see how many species of plant there were in 3 different areas.’
- ‘I was really excited to meet Alex*. It was really fun finding out about the flower species.’
- ‘I loved the Oxeye daisies because I had never learnt about them before.’
Primary school students
- ‘I love being in the wood. At a time when anxiety can take over, it is my safe space of peace and quiet’
- ‘It has been amazing to help create something and know that it will make a difference to nature and wildlife’
- ‘The children plan to use a spreadsheet to present their data and then repeat it on the same day next year. This has been such a valuable learning experience for them. They are discussing how to work scientifically and the best way to research and record data.’
- ‘The facilitator* had a really wonderful way with the children and the adults who attended. This is a very special project’
- ‘Alex* was brilliant. Just the right level of info and very relaxed & inclusive.’
Headteacher and Teachers
- Invaluable experience gained by our ecology intern, devising and delivering nature-based activities. This has enabled the intern to develop their career in the environment sector.
- Young people in awe of the nature that they encountered and inspired to look after it and understand more
- Increased habitat diversity
*Interning ecologist, session leader and Nature in Harmony Exchange Project Team Leader