My name is Findlay Wilde, you might remember me from the last guest blog I did for Mark about my concerns for the future of our fabulous, but endangered, wildlife and habitats. And now I am back to write my second blog. A lot has changed in a year and I have now started High School. I am more experienced, realistic, grown-up and more ready for what things I am going to face and what we together will face in the future of conservation.
At this year’s Bird Fair, I was listening to a conversation between my dad and Mr Avery. Mark was saying about how we couldn’t get all the staff members of NGOs into schools as there just aren’t enough of them to go round; but that got me thinking, what happens if we could and there was a way. So I decided to do a bit of a school survey and at the same time find out how many volunteers some of the most known NGOs have.
NGO Volunteer Numbers
To find out how many volunteers the NGOs have, I looked at their websites and annual reports:
Butterfly Conservation 15,000
Woodland Trust 1,500
Wildlife Trust 30,000
Bat Conservation 2,000
Natural England 2,000
National Trust 70,000
Primary School Survey
There are about 26,000 primary schools in the UK. I decided to survey the 260 primary schools in Cheshire. I emailed the schools four simple questions and 30% of the schools replied, here are the questions and the results:
Have you ever been approached by an NGO (Non Government Organisation) such asRSPB, British Trust for Ornithology, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife, Buglife, National Trust, Woodland Trust, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust or a similar group wanting to talk and present to the children in your school. If yes, please say which organisation it was.
78% of the schools surveyed have had no contact with an NGO.
The breakdown of the 22% was as follows: RSPB 4%, Wildlife Trusts 4%, Woodland Trust 2% and a variety of other organisations made up the remaining 12%.
Has your school ever approached one of the NGOs mentioned in Question 1 and asked them to present or run a workshop for your children? If yes, which organisation and did they do it.
76% of the schools had not approached an NGO.
The breakdown of the 24% was as follows: RSPB 2%, Wildlife Trusts 8%, Woodland Trust 4% and other 10%.
Would you welcome one of these NGOs presenting to or running a workshop with your children?
Although most schools said that they would welcome a visit from an NGO, quite a few also mentioned that it would depend on the cost and how it tied in to the school’s curriculum. Here is something that one of the schools said:
“The sad fact of the matter is that we have become quite obsessed with ensuring that we cover all of the curriculum that the government asks us to and that we raise standards in Maths and English as Ofsted constantly requires us to, when I was at primary school some 40 years ago, nature work was far more common than it seems to be in schools today.”
Do you think it’s important that children engage with nature?
No need for a graph this time, 100% of the schools agreed that it is important for children to engage with nature. Here is a quote from one of the schools surveyed:
“Absolutely, they are the future custodians of our planet. Education must be the key to future conservation and increased environmental awareness. Children tend to listen to experts with less scepticism than when it is presented by a teacher however passionately they do so.”
Making Sense of the Numbers
• So it is clear the schools want help, and they all agree it is important for kids to engage with nature.
• At the moment there doesn’t seem to be many schools and NGOs working together.
• The amount of volunteers from just the 10 NGOs mentioned before is all together 178,000.
• There are about 26,000 primary schools in the UK.
Can you see where I’m going with this? How about if even just a quarter of all NGO volunteers spent some of their volunteer time with their local primary school? Maybe an “adopt a school” scheme where the volunteer regularly visits the same school. Maybe the NGOs could put together a structured lesson plan that the volunteers could use. Think of the difference this could make, to have someone truly passionate about wildlife and nature opening children’s eyes to its wonders. I understand now that you can’t teach people to feel the passion I have for nature, but you can teach them the next best thing, respect.
We don’t own nature, we are all just guests at natures table, and as guests it’s about time we all learn some manners, starting with respect.
Why Target Primary Schools
I am sure all of you adult wildlife lovers reading this blog will have gotten into some kind of conservation in your life, and that your interest was probably sparked during your very early school years. I myself started off engaging with nature in those years with the help of both my passion and other people’s knowledge.
Think of me as a river, I started off (in my primary school years) as a tiny little stream, but then I slowly started to widen with knowledge, but then as I carried on my downstream journey I came to these massive bends. People guided me and helped me find my way round these twists and turns as I carried on downstream; but suddenly as I start at High School I see the path for myself. I am growing, learning and getting more and more interested in wildlife and I am creating my own river path that will one day meet the sea, but meet it my way.
The Future My Way
When I eventually get older I want our world to be a friendly and eco world; not just with a single forest that is a protected area. I want the world to be a protected area; I want bird numbers to rise, basically I want the whole world to be a home for wildlife again; I want all the people and groups that think the same to work together, which one day might make my dream come true.
So come on NGOs, come on schools, come on volunteers; let’s make this happen together.