The John Muir Award: An opportunity to get out of the classroom

Comma butterfly credit Jess Aberbach

Reflections on the Award by Keeping it Wild Trainee Jess: From cultural histories layered in landscapes, to Fibonacci sequences found in flowers and pine cones. The questions and wonder provoked by microscopic to panoramic outdoor scenes combined with the calming effect of being in an open space complements health and education.

Robert Frost declared “all literature begins with geography”, and perhaps our current Curriculum diverge their roads too much. With the separation of arts and sciences, the claustrophobia of grades, and pressure of exams - not to mention the physical classroom walls - there is often little room for exploration.

As a Trainee on the Keeping it Wild project, I was able to attend a John Muir Award leader training day at London Youth (one of the project consortium partner’s) offices. The session gave advice and inspiration for those working with young people to achieve the award. It was such a pleasure to meet some of the people dedicated to creating friendly, inclusive environments where young people can socialise and explore the outdoors.

Keeping it Wild Camera Trap Training

Keeping it Wild Camera Trap Training credit Penny Dixie

Embarking on a Keeping it Wild activity programme and working towards a John Muir Award gives London Youth’s member organisations an opportunity for their young people to learn about the natural world and discover wild spaces. The outdoors can be a much more relaxed and less pressurised setting: Sound does not reverberate against ceilings and walls, and conversations can flow more easily with movement and scenery. Providing opportunities to get outdoors and learn in different ways is extremely important. They help to boost connections, confidence, health and wellbeing. 

There is no easy solution to the prevalence of loneliness and mental health issues among the young (reported by the Office of National Statistics). Getting outdoors is often recognised as essential for physical and mental wellbeing, something the government includes in its most recent DEFRA report. The opportunities offered by the Keeping it Wild project will empower young people from under-represented backgrounds to gain vital skills while exploring and conserving our capital’s wild spaces. 

Keeping it Wild Trainees & Forum

Young people on the Keeping it Wild programme credit Penny Dixie

About Keeping it Wild

This is a new project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, that will empower and inspire 600 young people aged 11-25, from backgrounds currently under-represented in natural heritage, to gain vital skills while discovering, conserving and sharing their experiences of the capital’s wild spaces. 16-25-year-olds are invited to apply for a 12 week Traineeship, paid via a bursary. They are based at one of our reserves, where they spend time learning from the London Wildlife Trust team, gaining valuable practical skills in urban nature conservation. Additional support for the Traineeships has been generously donated by the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers.

Find out more about the project