A group of eight trainees from the Chester area have successfully completed a dedicated environmental education programme called Green Angels, run by national land management charity the Land Trust at the Countess of Chester Country Park.
They celebrated their achievements at a special ceremony at the Little Owl pub near Gawer Park on November 15, where they received certificates and plenty of cake and discussed what they plan to do with their new-found skills and passion for the natural world.
The group – Ian Roberts, Amy Tatton, Margot Murphy, Karen Mayers, David North, Morag Scargill, Jodie Egerton-Parry and Sue Loughran – all completed the Green Angels Environmental Education course over 8 weeks.
It covered environmental education initiatives such as forest and eco schools, lesson planning, health and safety and risk assessments, and covered a range of outdoor education activities, giving the trainees hands-on experience to back up their learning.
The group worked with children from Dee Point Primary School and Hopscotch Nursery, hosting all sorts of activities for youngsters at Countess of Chester Country Park, including pond-dipping, scavenger hunting and creating artworks from nature, and even running a Forest Schools session.
Karen Mayers, who cares for her 95-year-old mother, says the course has given her the opportunity to not only get some time outdoors and meet new people, but also to enhance the skills on her CV for when she re-enters the teaching environment.
“My mum has even said she can see a change in me – I’m happier and more confident,” Karen said.
She also takes part in the regular Green Gym activities in the park, and over winter will be helping out with hedge-cutting and bulb planting.
Ian Roberts has become so inspired and motivated by the course and other activities in the park that he is now the Chair of the Friends of Countess of Chester Country Park. “I just love being outside,” he said. “And at the same time I’m learning and getting more experience.”
Carolyn Hassall, Green Angels Project Manager at the Land Trust, said everyone really enjoyed the course and the group has been great to work with.
“It’s been fantastic to see everyone’s progress and they’ve benefited hugely not only from the educational opportunity and chance to practice some new skills, but also from being outdoors and working as a team,” she said.
“They have so much enthusiasm for the natural world and working with young people now and it’s coupled with comprehensive knowledge, so we can’t wait to see how their ideas and new skills unfold in the future and hope they keep in touch with us and the park.”
Certificates were handed out by Land Trust representatives Alan Carter, director of portfolio management, and Sarah Palgrave-Neath, estates manager north.
The Big Lottery Reaching Communities Fund
More than 84 people have now completed the Land Trust’s Green Angels courses, which launched in 2013 thanks to The Big Lottery Reaching Communities Fund, and are continuing with funding from the charity and partners.
The project was created to engage with the community and create new learning opportunities covering countryside management, parks maintenance, business skills, environmental education and horticulture.
Some 30 trainees have gone on to employment or started their own business after completing Green Angels courses, and they say they have grown in confidence, made new friends, learned new skills and connected with the local environment as a result.
Find out more about the Land Trust at: www.thelandrust.org.uk and join the Countess of Chester Country Park Facebook group for details on upcoming activities: www.facebook.com/countessofchestercountrypark/