Connecting young people with nature for a greener future
It is true what they say, having a connection with nature is good for the soul. And establishing a connection with nature at a young age is fundamental. It has multiple benefits, such as improving confidence and creativity, as well as supporting better mental and physical wellbeing. It also creates Forest guardians who will care for and protect the Forest in the future.
Nature nurtures children
We are creating a Forest that will be here for life, so engaging the younger generation now is vital, as they will be the ones to care for the Forest in the future. Nature has a way of nurturing us all, and in building these early foundations the benefits continue to develop with age. This is Edward’s story.
Edward has been involved with the Heart of England Forest since he was 13 years old. During this time, Edward has picked up many new skills by undertaking a variety of different forestry and conservation tasks, as well as learning about the history and geography of the area. Edward joined as part of the Young Foresters club, aimed at 12–18-year-olds, a volunteering and adventure club that runs monthly. Not only has Edward gained valuable work experience in this role, he has also made new friends in the process.
At 18 years old, Edward helped deliver the Young Foresters sessions with the guidance of Volunteer Manager Jonathan and Outdoor Learning Officer Andrea. Combining all the skills he has acquired over the years; Edward was able to talk about his passion and helped inspire others.
Now Edward is going to university, he is taking a step back from his work at the Forest but is keen to return in the future to see how much it has grown.
Ellie Jones, our Outdoor Learning Officer, has been working with a 16-year-old who is not in education, employment, or training, who has been visiting the Forest every week for 2 hour 1-to-1 supported volunteering sessions. The young person has a deep love for nature and loves walking in the Forest with her family.
The Forest has been a haven for the family and through the sessions she has found a safe space where she can rebuild her confidence and independence having been out of the school system since the pandemic.
“It has been lovely to see the growth in her, particularly as she has started to overcome her extreme anxiety and low self-esteem. She has started to build successful relationships with members of the wider Forest team and take on projects such as using her photography skills to make spotter sheets specific to the Heart of England Forest. She has told me that she feels like the Forest is a safe place where she can freely express herself and not have to worry about what others think.” - Ellie, Outdoor Learning Officer
Today’s children are tomorrow’s Forest guardians
We also offer the opportunity to get involved at an even earlier age. Our Mini Foresters monthly club is aimed at children aged 4-11 years. These sessions are particularly special as parents, grandparents, and carers also join in the fun, sharing new, memorable experiences together.
Children are very insightful, and watching their families respond positively towards the environment has an affirming ripple effect on them.
We run family-focussed events throughout the year which give the whole family the opportunity to have fun in the Forest, and we have two guided walks coming up in the summer holidays: Dorsington Wood and a Sculpture Trail and Woodland Walk and Wetland Art in College Wood. Find out more and book here.
Creating a green inheritance for future generations
We are growing a Forest buzzing with life that will be here for hundreds of years to come, creating a better environmental future for the next generation.