The Wildlife Trusts has named Whisby Wildlife Watch group the winner in the annual Watch Group of the Year Awards.
Whether camping out in the wild, coppicing to improve habitat, or heading out on a beach clean, members of Wildlife Watch groups - run by The Wildlife Trusts for young nature lovers - are passionate about enjoying, and protecting, wildlife. The Watch Group of the Year Award recognises and rewards this passion.
Whisby Wildlife Watch group is based at Whisby Nature Park. Members of the group, some as young as five, demonstrated their sense of adventure by getting involved with woodland navigation armed with map and compass, and developed their eco-credentials through crafting with recycled materials.
"We went pond dipping and had a fab time," said Zoe Camplin (9), describing one of the group activities, "First, Alison showed us how to use a net and catch something like a water boatman, snail, caddis fly larvae and more. I had fun! I went home thinking how good pond dipping was."
"This is brilliant news" said Wildlife Watch Organiser for Lincolnshire, Mary Porter. "The Whisby Wildlife Watch group have a fantastic time at their meetings, enjoying a huge variety of activities and investigations. It's also a tribute who their adult leaders who organise such a wonderful experience for them, with such enthusiasm."
Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: "We live in a time where the disconnection of young people from the natural world is well documented. So it’s hugely reassuring to hear about the experiences of Wildlife Watch groups, full of young people who love spending their spare time enjoying the sights and sounds of the wild world.
"Wildlife Watch encourages an interest in the natural world by inspiring personal participation. It creates learning opportunities too and we were delighted to see that Whisby’s young members help put their yearbook together. Everyone is given the opportunity to decide on the future programme and to shape activity. This approach encourages loyalty which makes engagement so effective and enjoyable, both for leaders and young members. Their sense of pride and achievement shone through."
The winning group will be presented with a special trophy and £75 in gardening vouchers, with £50 and £25 going to second and third places respectively. All winners will receive a certificate signed by TV presenter, wildlife expert and The Wildlife Trusts’ Vice President, Chris Packham.
Wildlife Watch is The Wildlife Trusts’ branch for its junior members, who receive four copies of Wildlife Watch magazine every year, a membership pack, and access to events and activities with their local Wildlife Trust. To find out more about Wildlife Watch and how to join, visit wildlifewatch.org.uk. Wildlife Watch groups are run across the UK by local Wildlife Trusts. To find your local group visit: wildlifewatch.org.uk/Where-you-live