When groups ask me how they can enthuse young people about heritage I often answer that it is important to talk to them and make it relevant to their everyday lives. It is not just the distant past but links to the world around them. Nature can be a great way of getting young people to think differently about heritage and show them that buildings and museums are only one part of our fantastic heritage.
Every day we are surrounded by nature and we often take it for granted. It may be the riverside or pond that we pass every time we leave the house which houses a whole range of species or the park that we take for granted but there is so much to discover on our door steps.
We are currently trying to raise awareness of the importance of nature as part of our heritage through our Yorkshire’s back garden campaign but we are not starting from scratch. In Yorkshire we’ve funded some lovely projects that have opened up the natural environment to young people; training them in new skills, opening their eyes to local hidden gems and helping them share this world with others.
The Friends of Judy Woods and the Joint Activities and Motor Education Service helped young people to discover the ancient woodlands on their doorstep, identify the species that live there and delve into its archaeological history to help to create new QR code trails around the woods.
The Opening Doors project run by the Sheffield Black and Ethnic Minority Environmental Network (SHEBEEN) allowed young people from inner city Sheffield to explore their natural heritage in Sheffield city centre and further afield. They recorded their trips and what they found through photography and created an exhibition to showcase their local environment.
If you are looking at how you might use natural heritage to inspire future generations why not take a look at our recent Yorkshire’s back garden campaign blog by Chris Smith, Senior Outdoor Learning Officer at Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trusts for some ideas.
I’m sure that there are plenty more projects involving young people in nature and it would be great if you could share with us your successes.