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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Educational project: The Kingfisher Project

Following on from my September 7th post( which including photos) I have also sent this write up for publication in the Wildlife Trust's next magazine.

The Kingfisher Project.

Somerset Wildlife Trust was part of a fantastic schools learning project this summer which was the brainchild of poet laureate, the late Ted Hughes. The Scheme has been running successfully in Devon since 1992.
The Kingfisher Award Scheme was set up in Somerset by Michael Brown who recently retired from running the Brown and Forrest Smokery in Hambridge.
Its objective is to make children aware of the relationship between wildlife and farming; to look at habitats in detail, and to inspire them generally with a life-long interest in the country.
It is funded by a small number of donors, farmers and landowners and by Michael Brown himself running a marathon!
Children from six primary schools ( approx 180 children over three days) visited a farm near Curry Rivel to learn about wildlife in the open, and by discovery which are the two main themes of the Kingfisher Award - and having fun!
Children were also able to see close up a live barn owl and learnt how they hunt and what they eat by dissecting owl pellets (very popular!). They were able to look at the skulls of small mammals and follow this up by seeing how they can be studied by trapping voles, mice and shrews, to be released unharmed back in their habitat.
Dudley Cheesman SWT Council Member and chair of the Somerset branch of Butterfly Conservation, showed some live specimens of local butterflies and moths.
David German, chair of the Heart of the Levels Area Group was one of the project volunteers

Back in the classroom children spent a month working together to research and create displays that reflected their experience in the field.
Their work was judged at a special presentation day at Home Farm, Curry Rivel.
A panel of three judges (including SWT’s Lisa Schneidau, responsible for the Wildlife Trust’s Living Landscape projects and Jean Cheesman and farm owner Henry Lang) talked to the children about their work before prizes were awarded.
First prize of a hand carved Kingfisher Trophy as well as a day in class with the famous willow worker, Serena de la Hay, went to Curry Mallet Primary School Runners-up were Huish Primary School.
Next years project is scheduled for June 8th 2009.

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