Thursday, 4 December 2014

BSBI supports Young Darwins again in 2014.

Kevin (Young Darwin Scholar) examines a plant
Last March, we brought you this report from Cathy Preston at the Field Studies Council about the Young Darwin Scholarship. BSBI was proud to support this programme again in 2014 so I asked Cathy to tell us about this year's intake of Young Darwins. Here is her report:

 "Fifteen young people followed in Darwin’s footsteps walking, exploring, questioning and identifying flora and fauna during their five day Young Darwin Scholarship introductory residential at FSC Preston MontfordThe Young Darwin Scholarship is an FSC initiative to support and encourage young people who have a real interest in natural history and the environment. 

"BSBI have supported the programme for the last two years showing commitment to this initiative which provides ongoing training and opportunities for the young people as they develop.

Sue Townsend (on left) and YDS botanists
"The Young Darwin Scholarship is now in its third year so there are 45 young people who are part of the Young Darwin network and FSC plans to award a further 15 scholarships in 2015.  

"On the first day of the residential, Sue Townsend (Secretary of the BSBI Training and Education Committee) led a guided walk around the FSC Preston Montford Estate bringing to life the links between the landscape, plants and animals. 

"Throughout the walk, she introduced different plants, outlining their characteristics and bringing to life their place in each habitat.  Issues such as invasive species were introduced using Himalayan Balsam which grows on the bank of the River Severn on the estate.

"The Young Darwins were also able to learn about the project to create a meadow on the Preston Montford estate using hay from a species-rich meadow in Shropshire. During their stay, the young people used field notebooks and compiled a species list which they all contributed to. 

Young Darwin Scholar keeping a field notebook
"They visited the Stiperstones and met with Colin Preston, CEO of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust. They learnt about the Back to Purple heather restoration project and walked through the Hollies nature reserve – a grove of ancient trees, some of which host Rowan trees growing in cracks in their bark.  

"The Young Darwin Scholars will be encouraged on their onward journey with a reunion and bursaries to attend further training in 2015 and they will also have the chance to meet Young Darwins from 2012 and 2013, which is of mutual benefit. As a Young Darwin from 2012 said following this year's reunion: ‘It is good to get together with Young Darwin Scholars (YDS) – even my friends at University are not as interested in the environment as my YDS friends.’ "

Thanks Cathy! And this what some of the 2014 Young Darwins said about their experience...

Young Darwins line up for their photo-call!
"The Young Darwin Scholarship residential course was fantastic. It included such a broad range of activities relating to the natural world, of which I particularly enjoyed the bio blitz on which over 200 species were found. I made many new friends with the same interest in wildlife, some of whom I am soon going to be meeting up with at nature reserves around the country, and also benefitted from the knowledge of the wide array of experts such as entomologists and botanists who were on hand to give advice or identify flora and fauna. I am looking forward to going on future FSC courses and the YDS reunion next year".  Harry

Young Darwin Scholars Charlotte & Matthew
 "I enjoyed the variety and ability to focus on things that interested you." Charlotte

"‘As for a quote; the YDS helped make my dream of working as a naturalist become more of a reality. It was great to share my enthusiasm of natural history with like minded people."   Alasdair

Applications for the Young Darwin Scholarship 2015 will open in January and you can find out more here. 

All images on this page are reproduced by courtesy of the Field Studies Council.