In the year it celebrated its twentieth birthday, Norton Wildlife Watch Group of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust scooped the overall Wildlife Watch Group of the Year award.
There were also two winners from Lincolnshire:
** Midlands Region Runner-up – Whisby Watch/WEX Group based at Whisby Nature Park just outside Lincoln
** Commended – Moulton Chapel School Wildlife Club, near Spalding
Amongst their varied meetings and activities, Whisby Watch/WEX Group has tackled practical conservation tasks in the nature park and found out about wildlife gardening. The judges said: "We liked reading about you getting out and about taking advantage of your lovely surroundings. It was encouraging to hear that you have been helping with conservation work, and your pond-dipping produced a very impressive spotters list! It was good to hear from young people who were distracted by nature’s unpredictability. Flexibility is a good quality to knit into your programmes, and who would want to miss out on a nightingale?"
Moulton Chapel School Wildlife Club had their first meeting in September 2007, since then they’ve found out about butterflies, bats and spiders, and enjoyed wildlife walks in their local area. The judges said: "We enjoyed reading how your group has grown in enthusiasm and confidence. The children’s enjoyment of the club shines through and we really enjoyed your jokes. You have evidently put a lot of effort into a popular club and adopted a lively variety of approaches. We especially liked your idea of using animal puppets to help children share their knowledge, opinions and ideas."
"This is great news" said Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Wildlife Watch Co-ordinator Mary Porter, "the groups have worked really hard to help wildlife in their area and had great fun in the process. We have over 3,000 Wildlife Watch members in Lincolnshire and these children are really lucky to have such enthusiastic leaders who organise all the activities in their own time."
Wildlife Watch is the young people’s branch of The Wildlife Trusts. Since 1971 Wildlife Watch has been involving young people and their families in discovering and celebrating their environment. Today local Wildlife Trusts support nearly 400 Wildlife Watch groups run by volunteers, within local communities and in schools across the UK. Wildlife Watch aims to get young people outdoors, engaged with wildlife and having fun. Wildlife Watch works to help children and young people develop a positive relationship with their environment, letting them discover for themselves how human activity can influence our surroundings and the wildlife we share them with.
There are 23 Wildlife Watch groups in Lincolnshire, 14 of which are school groups. Affiliating to Wildlife Watch is a really good way for school-based wildlife clubs to receive support and wildlife-related materials. Anyone wanting to find out more about joining Wildlife Watch should contact the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust on 01507 526667 or by email.
The first Wildlife Watch Group of the Year award was given in 1998. To qualify, entrants submit a year book which illustrates their programme for the previous year and describes the character of the group. The UK winner and runner-up are chosen from the regional winners, with an award also made for the best new group.
Helen Freeston, people and wildlife manager for The Wildlife Trusts, was one of the competition judges. She said: "The judges always enjoy looking at the year books. This year’s high level of entries was both inspiring and challenging. Wildlife Watch is essentially not a competitive activity and so separating groups is never easy. Each has its own strengths and character. We were pleased to make commendations alongside the other awards.
"Trends we saw coming through this year were in groups enjoying den-making and bushcraft activities. Developing skills and awareness within a group setting is really important. It means that activities such as tool use and fire-lighting, and cooking and eating outdoors can be learned in a safe context. Leaders can work alongside children to help them understand the potential risks and issues without undermining the essential enjoyment that makes this sort of activity so exciting and alluring in the first place.
"What all the winning groups offered was a chance for adults and children alike to enjoy and celebrate nature. To explore and learn about the places close to where they live and play. The Wildlife Watch leaders making these groups happen are amongst our most treasured volunteers. They do an amazing job."