Engagement with the Next Generation

Managing our site is a challenge and a joy but, to be a truly worthwhile exercise, we need to be able to pass the baton to the next generation; one that is inspired by an interest in and love of the countryside and the environment. To that end we are delighted to share Valley Marsh and Church Plantation with young people.

For the last few years we’ve been blessed with good weather for our annual pond-dipping day in May, and it has been a very popular event. Widely promoted in the village magazine, the local schools and Scout Group, in recent years we’ve been glad to welcome onto Valley Marsh some 40-or-so youngsters and adults. As well as trying their own hands at dipping, they can view the specimens that have already been collected.

There is always great excitement as they add their catches to the holding tanks for inspection. The list of species grows as tadpoles, small fish, huge diving beetles, water boatmen, nymphs of different species of dragonfly and damselflies, cadis fly larvae, leeches, beetles, spiders and many other curiosities join their fellows in the tanks. Identification and discussion follow and, at the end of the afternoon visitors are encouraged to help with carefully (and gently) returning all the catches to their original habitats.

For some years we’ve been developing a relationship with the various elements of the Brooke Scout Group. It works well for both them and us; we’re delighted that they can use our site to experience and enjoy the natural environment, allowing us to explain some of the conservation work we do. They can tie in some of their Activity badges and Challenge awards with helping those efforts.

The different age groups comprise Beavers (6 to 8-year-olds), Cubs (8-11), Scouts (12-14) and Explorer Scouts (14-18). They visit us on the evenings of their normal den meetings and undertake a variety of age-appropriate activities.