The Parks Trust, the self-financing charity that manages and maintains over 6,000 acres of Milton Keynes’ green space, welcomed 62 children from primary schools and home educated groups across the city for its fifth annual Junior Park Rangers (JPR) Outdoor Learning and Sharing Conference. The children enjoyed an action-packed day of outdoor activities at Campbell Park, which began with a ‘Which Park?’ photograph quiz, followed by a short Q&A session, where the Rangers put Landscape and operations director, Rob Riekie, on-the-spot to answer their questions on both woodland management and Campbell Park.
Shortly after, the children split into groups to take part in a variety of different activities, including a ‘winter wander’, where they discovered natural ‘treasures’ ;a VIP woodland management experience and interactive Community Ranger challenges covering litter, water safety, feeding waterfowl and the Countryside Code messages of ‘Respect, Protect and Enjoy’, for the environment and Milton Keynes parks.
After lunch, there were more fun activities to enjoy; John Muir (environmental) Award inspired tasks, including using natural materials to create ‘mini national parks’ and individual group verbal presentations, showcasing JPR activities, competitions and quizzes.
This was a very important part of the day as the opportunity to communicate and share key environmental messages to peers, school and family and friend communities is an integral part of the JPR programme. The Rangers also painted a rock, which will be used to create a ‘JPR’ themed mural, temporarily located in Campbell Park, the city’s Art park.
Each Ranger received their own cloth goody bag, including JPR baseball cap and individual attendance certificate. The Rangers were also very excited to take home wood souvenirs, kindly provided by the woodland experience team and some wild meadow flower seed to use within their school or group grounds.
The day closed with the winners of the team challenges being announced. In first place was Haslett Hedgehogs, second place Middleton Birds and third was Determined Dragonflies. Prizes included a variety of outdoor learning equipment.
Amanda Bailey, outdoor learning practitioner and co-ordinator of the JPR programme at The Parks Trust, commented: “We love the annual JPR Outdoor Learning and Sharing Conference, it’s a fantastic opportunity for children to get out into nature and find out more about the city’s green space and wildlife.
“Our Junior Park Rangers are such an asset to their schools and local communities as they are so enthusiastic about the natural environment and what they can do to protect and support it. We believe its hugely important to involve children in caring for the world around them and encouraging these positive attitudes from a young age, so we are dedicated to involving them in our activities wherever possible.”
The Junior Park Rangers scheme is free to join, simple to run and is fully supported by the Outdoor Learning Team at The Parks Trust. As part of the scheme up to six children per school, from years 4-6, are recruited as Junior Park Rangers.
The role of a Junior Ranger is to share with their school community key environmental messages, particularly how they can help to keep MK parks safe, clean and full of wildlife.
Rangers have three main jobs: They read out a monthly seasonal bulletin in assembly; run competitions, quizzes and campaigns to raise awareness about events and issues in the parks; and set up and maintain a noticeboard with posters, pictures and maps.
For more information about Junior Rangers, please get in touch with The Parks Trust Outdoor Learning team, on 01908 233600 or [email protected]