Inspiring North East young naturalists

150 local children will have the opportunity to become young North East naturalists thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Natural History Society of Northumbria are delighted to have been granted £48,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) to inspire young naturalists across the North East. This will provide children with new opportunities, develop skills and help nurture an understanding of the natural world.

Working with local schools, How to be a North East Young Naturalist will develop new resources to inspire a wider range of young people in the North East to learn about and enjoy their local wildlife. Working with teachers and children, this project will help them gain the skills needed to become North East young naturalists. 

Working collaboratively with partners including Mammal Web, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums and Newcastle University, the project will support 150 children under the age of twelve to discover their inner naturalist, helping inspire wonder in North East nature and ensuring it is protected in the future.

Sharing the exciting news, NHSN Director, Clare Freeman said:

Across the globe and right here in the North East, nature is in trouble. We now face a climate emergency and biodiversity crisis, and oneway to save North East nature is to ensure that young people are equipped with the skills, knowledge and understanding to protect the natural world.

Young people will not protect what they don’t care about. Working with passionate volunteer Education Rangers and partners, we can provide more opportunities than ever before for children to experience local natural history.

Support from National Lottery Heritage Fund will make a world of difference for young people in our region. We cannot thank them enough for their support.

Teachers and research across the North East highlight that young people are increasingly disconnected from the natural world. Teachers lack the confidence to help children discover their local and regional natural history. There is a clear need to act now to ensure that children are given opportunities to experience, enjoy and learn about nature on their doorstep. Only by doing this will we ensure that natural curiosity for nature lasts into later life, inspiring action on behalf of the natural world. To make this a reality, the new project will:

  • Carry out a total of fifty visits with five schools, creating opportunities for 150 children across the North East.
  • Welcome children to the Great North Museum: Hancock and Gosforth Nature Reserve to learn about natural history.
  • Support teachers in how best to nurture childrens’ natural curiosity for the nature.
  • Create a free and accessible toolkit to be used by teachers and schools right across the North East.

Highlighting the importance of working with children, Laura Balding, a teacher at St Wilfrid’s Primary School in Blyth, said:

As a school in an urban area, as well as having a high number of disadvantaged children that do not have regular opportunities to explore the outdoors, we recognise the need to connect more young people with nature and act on the socio-economic inequalities surrounding access to nature. NHSN and local schools are in a key position to inspire and connect young people with the natural world in the North East.

As a school, over the years we have hugely benefitted from local trips provided by NHSN and the children have had endless opportunities to learn and connect with nature. We believe that these are crucially important to our children’s education and our parents are as equally as positive as the children.

This project is crucial to our children’s wider education and scientific learning.

NHSN Director, Clare Freeman, adds:

NHSN members are passionate about supporting and nurturing young people.

Building on a long tradition of outreach dating back almost two centuries, this project will work with those who need it most across the North East, inspiring wonder, fascinating and appreciation for North East nature.

You told us to do more to inspire the North East’s children and now, with the support of National Lottery Heritage Fund, volunteers and partners, we will.

NHSN Education Ranger, Brian Wright, inspiring a school group at Gosforth Nature Reserve