Mel Cousins from the Field Studies Council (FSC) explains why wildlife indetification skills can bring children closer to nature.
"It’s fair to say as an organisation Field Studies Council (FSC) are concerned about a lack of taxonomic skills. Some graduates are leaving university to start work in the environmental sector without the necessary field identification skills and there are fewer volunteers training courses helping with the knowledge needed for the critical role they play.
As a charity, developing more skills to help people monitor, identify and record biodiversity is at the heart of what FSC want to do.
One thing that is clear to us is the need to engage our young people with the natural world early on. Many children and teenagers visit FSC on school trips but we also offer Real Family Holidays - affordable UK breaks to encourage families to try new activities like pond dipping or moth trapping so they can start to learn more and enjoy the environment together.
For young people who have already got an interest we have created the Young Darwin Scholarship. This pioneering scheme awards 15 scholarships each year to 16 and 17 year olds who are studying or interested in science-especially ecology, geography, geology or the environment. They begin with a five day residential at one of our centres, honing their identification skills, bonding with each other and making useful connections with us and other experts. It continues with ongoing mentoring and other opportunities to meet up and develop skills, working towards a new generation of ‘Darwins’.
We also offer subject-specific summer camps, in marine science and geology, alongside a programme of conservation-themed residentials suitable for Duke of Edinburgh Gold, or simply to enjoy and learn from the experience. These opportunities for young people can be supported by FSC’s Young Environmentalists Fund, which provides financial support for young people in need of it.
The Young Environmentalists Fund also offers help for 16-25 year olds who want to undertake one of the Natural History courses in our wide programme, including a great range of butterfly and moth courses.
Other opportunities for young people at FSC include Higher Education Placements, volunteering and other local projects. To find out more about how FSC is helping to develop biodiversity skills for the future visit: http://www.field-studies-council.org/young-people"