The Countryside Education Trust
The Countryside Education Trust (CET) is an educational charity based in Beaulieu. It provides amazing learning opportunities for schools and families, connecting them with nature and teaching them about the British countryside, rural life and farming.
Through the Green and Blue Horizons Scheme, the CET received £91,000 funding (£68.5k Lottery funded, £22.5k match funded) towards staffing as well as educational and promotional displays and materials.
Of the total funding, £60,500 has created or retained five jobs:
- Climate and environment lead
- Climate and environment educator
- Climate and environment assistant
- Summer intern (2022).
The £22,500 match funding is provided by the Fort Foundation for:
- A branded trailer for offsite events
- The design and build of the internal displays in the new Fort Climate Centre
- New gate signage.
The remaining £8,000 will go towards publicity and promotional work as well as bringing in specialists to lead lectures and outdoor events.
The scheme has allowed the CET to run a ‘mini-internship’ in the summer (2022), a one-week course aimed at 16 to 30-year-old’s who may not have the best access to the Forest or green spaces.
Composed of talks and activities based around climate change and sustainability the course was a great success with nothing but positive feedback from everyone involved.
Day one was based around the links between weather and climate, how to interpret data from the CET’s weather station alongside analysing different soils around the farm.
Day two saw the group tree mapping in Hartford Wood, carrying out a butterfly survey and then using materials found in the Forest, making shepherd’s sticks and charcoal for artists through charcoal burning.
Day three demonstrated the great collaborative work possible through the scheme with Thea from the Freshwater Habitats Trust leading a day about the New Forest’s waterways, showing how to carry out water quality and biodiversity testing whilst also talking about the unique qualities of the Forest’s wetlands.
Day four was based around farming and commoning. The group learned about traditional crops and livestock breeds and the comeback they’re making, the importance of hedgerows as wildlife corridors and how New Forest commoners help shape and protect the landscape.
Day five was a visit to Eling Tide Mill on the very outskirts of the Forest. Here they learned about how ancient technology can still be applied in modern times. The group then collated all their findings and teachings throughout the week to develop activities for public outreach.
The ‘mini-internship’ was a rousing success, with participants blown away by the jam-packed schedule, saying it went ‘above and beyond’ expectations.
Due to the internship’s success the CET already has plans in place to run similar courses throughout autumn and into the winter.