Tonight Moray Wildlife Watch group feature on BBC One's Landward. Wildlife Watch Leader, Lynn Laing, reflects on what inspires here, why she started the group, and why it is so rewarding!
My childhood playground was Glen Nevis and I was brought up in beautiful Lochaber where my time was spent making dens, building mud huts, running wild in the hills around Loch Linnhe and paddling in rivers.
This deep connection with my environment stayed with me as I ventured on my studies and moved to Moray where I settled. When my family were young and they reached school age I realised that it would be a good idea to see if I could set up a nature club for local children, where we could meet new families interested in playing outdoors and learning in nature with the children and so after looking up the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Wildlife Watch clubs, Moray Wildlife Watch Group was created with the help of my fab ranger friend Rosie Black!
We then took on the running of the group, attracted lots of new children and families along and I had a great team of new parents signing up as Wildlife Watch Leaders – Dawn, Iain, Jane and Michelle. We took part in very memorable experiences that will stay with us forever such as Brambly Hedge – seeing nature through the eyes of wee mice and learning very important life skills such as sharing, harvesting, storing, preserving and celebrating the changing of nature's seasons – our Walking theatre project.
We met Steve Backshall on his Live and Deadly BBC programme, helped train with mountain rescue dog Aonach, learn from British Marine Rescue on how to help stranded marine life, visit Aigas to learn about the beavers, planted trees, wildflowers. Helped with bird ringing and litter picking and so much more.
As the children in my group leave primary school and enter a far more demanding world, thoughts of nature and wild places sometimes can not seem as important but I know that the best remedy for busy, stressful lives is to get into our woods for a brisk walk or sit by a river – everything seems much clearer! So as demand of instant, relentless media, peer pressure, branding and marketing fill our children's worlds at every turn, I felt it even more important than ever that we should try to set-up a teenager group where young people can socialise, take part in really engaging and exciting activities, learn possibly about careers that they could take in the outdoors and learn also about our species and habitats in need of our help for the future.
So with the help of my leader Dawn and our amazing new leader Alan, we have had the most amazing two years running the group with the help of the young people, who are now taking decisions of how they want their club to run including setting up their own facebook page. We have taken part in green woodworking making stools – an activity of patience and hard physical work, advanced Into the Wild bushcraft in local estates, Botanical art, and the camera trap workshops with the Scottish Wildcat Action Project which is being shown on BBC's Landward.
So, my journey has been so rewarding and inspiring as a Wildlife Watch leader. I would not have managed without my amazing team of young people, parents and leaders and I am so looking forward to the next adventure encouraging and supporting more of our young people to come on this journey with us outdoors – it's so much fun, we live in an amazing place we need to protect and I love every second of it!
I would encourage anyone who reads this to get together with a few friends and set-up your own Wildlife Watch group, it's really easy and straightforward. I have had the most encouraging support and guidance from Donna, People and Wildlife Officer for the Scottish Wildlife Trust. What is most rewarding is that with all our mad ideas, the answer is always, “Go for it”!