Junior Rangers in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park brings us some great news. Not only did they encourage young people to take care of the environment, but they also provided them with new knowledge and valuable skills. Also, they got an interesting insight into all the things these Junior Rangers liked the most about their programme as well as all the suggestions they had in order to make it even better.
In 2018, the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Junior Ranger Programme supported young people from McLaren High School, Balfron High School and Vale of Leven Academy to join National Park staff and partners in a week long programme.
They challenged them to get to know the National Park better, but were also very interested in their response. It resulted in a very interesting insight into their achievements.
The National Park Authority provides a wealth of materials and programmes to schools to help connect young people to the outdoors and give them an appreciation and respect for wild places. The Junior Ranger Programme builds on this by providing a deeper level of detail and hands-on experiences that will leave a lasting impression on those participating.
The programme also demonstrated the value in working with a range of partners which helped ensure the participants were able to learn about the broad range of work undertaken across the National Park.
What did the Junior Rangers do?
The Junior Ranger programme saw pupils help contribute towards the National Parks Wild Park Biodiversity Strategy by clearing invasive Rhododendron with National Trust for Scotland, completing Marine Litter Surveys and litter picks and clearing meadow cuttings at the RSPB Lomond Reserve. Each week the Junior Rangers also helped clearing cross drains on Ben Ledi, Ben A’an and Ben Lomond in partnership with The Mountains and The People.
Other activities included a Recreation and Access day paddling on Loch Ard, Orienteering through the woodlands at Loch Ard, a cruise boat on Loch Lomond and a visit to the island of Inchcailloch. Through these experiences they learnt more about sustainable tourism, access, recreation and health, managing visitor pressures and addressing land use conflicts. The week culminates in a day of reflections/presentations and graduations at their Schools. They also completed their John Muir Discovery Award, gaining invaluable knowledge, skills and experience of connecting with nature.
What did they like the most?
Feedback received from the Junior Rangers highlights the value they placed on the experience. Results from their evaluation responses show that overwhelmingly 100% enjoyed the programme. One Junior Ranger commented that “I enjoyed all of it and it was fun to do activities and find out how we can help our National Park. I learned loads of things I never knew before about the National Park.”
When asked what they enjoyed most about the programme, their responses included “I enjoyed learning about different jobs that the Rangers do” and “I liked being outdoors with my friends having fun but learning loads at the same time.”
Catriona Manders, a S2 pupil from McLaren High School, said: “Junior Rangers was an amazing experience and I feel very fortunate to have taken part. The variety of activities mixed with a brilliant group made this week a time of laughter, fun and memories I will never forget.”
Through participating in the activities, the aim was to increase the young people’s knowledge of the National Park. The table below shows their responses.
On reviewing the programme, Junior Rangers commented that they would like to make it longer and with opportunities throughout the year, with more practical conservation experiences and lots of activities. They also would like to discover more about the National Parks Biodiversity.
Other comments received showed that the Junior Rangers appreciated the challenges of being out and active and getting fit, they enjoyed working outside and the practical tasks, as well as talking to and engaging with visitors to the area – and if we could just sort out the midges!!
Finally, when asked if they would like to continue to be involved in the Junior Ranger programme 82% stated they would.