Monday, 4 May 2015

New Horizons for the Wild Lizard Project

 This week saw new horizons for the Lizard peninsula as the first ever Lizard Horizons school discovery day took place with St. Martin in Meneage School at Windmill Farm nature reserve.
As the new Volunteer Education Ranger for the Wild Lizard Project I've helped develop and implement some of the activities that we undertook at the reserve. Although I have experience volunteering in forest schools, and have spent time exploring nature reserves during my Zoology degree, I'd never before been tasked with bringing the two together!

I've lived in Cornwall for a number of years, forever being fascinated exploring the ocean and the moors. However, I had yet to explore the Lizard, and when the post of full time education volunteer was advertised I jumped at it! Getting young people involved in nature seemed an obvious career choice as discovering nature was what I enjoyed most when I was young.
St Martin in Meneage School go rock pooling with the new Volunteer Education Ranger
Out at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve pond dipping as part of the Lizard Horizons Project in partnership with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Greater Diving Beetle discovery at Windmill Farm
One of the original scuba divers the Greater Diving Beetle 

St. Martin School started their discovery day through learning the long and varied history of Windmill Farm, from sheep rustling gangs in the 1820's to why it became an important Navy base in WWII. They went on to discover why some of the rare and unique plants such as Pygmy rush thrived on the reserve. This was followed by the main activity of the day; Pond-dipping! Where the school discovered the greater diving beetle, water scorpions and tadpoles galore!

Since joining the Wild Lizard Project just last month I've also helped out in other events including a family bushcraft day at St Anthony. Here children foraged for shoreline food, built a fire without matches and explored the unique shoreline at this Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Area event.
St Keverne School learn the adaptations of a shore crab
A rather grumpy shore crab entertains the St Keverne School on their Seashore Safari
Other recent school visits under the Wild Lizard Project banner have included rock-pooling at Kennack sands, part of Natural England's NNR, with St Keverne School. We discovered how dog whelks are adapted to drilling holes into mussels so they can suck out their dinner, and how hermit crabs fight each other to win a new shell home!
Mullion School and their very own mermaid of Poldhu
Mullion School and their seaweed mermaid
At Poldhu, Mullion school learnt local legends of mermaids in their beachside story about the old man of Cury, and went on to build their very own mermaid after a scavenger hunt.
Happy faces with St. Martin in Meneage School after a long day of exploration
Wild at Windmill Farm, the project getting children outside the classroom and exploring their local natural environment
In my first few weeks volunteering I have been involved with National Trust, Natural England, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and HVMCA events and sites across the peninsula, demonstrating just how good a partnership the Wild Lizard Project is.

It's great seeing so many children enjoying being outdoors in such a variety of environments. Hopefully they will go on to expand their own horizons through their involvement with nature, just as I look forward to gaining in experience of outdoor education as my placement continues over the coming months. Greater  Diving Beetle anyone?

Author: Tom Bucher-Flynn

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