Do you know a 15-20 year-old who loves nature, wildlife and being outdoors? Perhaps they’re concerned about climate change and environmental issues. If they live in or near the Buckinghamshire Chilterns they can apply for ‘New Shoots’, a nature and wildlife conservation programme designed by and for young people – and it’s completely free to take part thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
New Shoots will take place monthly from June 2022 to March 2023. The group will visit some of the most beautiful nature reserves in the Chilterns. They’ll learn from experts in wildlife and conservation who’ll equip them with skills in identifying butterflies and birds, insects and plants and how to carry out formal surveys. They’ll get involved in managing habitats for wildlife and to address the biodiversity crisis. They’ll get their hands dirty doing practical conservation work such as managing the Chilterns’ habitats: ancient woodlands, chalk grasslands and chalk streams.
The sessions will take place out in the countryside in the central Chilterns, between Wycombe and Princes Risborough, with 11 sessions throughout the year. This is a great chance to get out and explore, whether you’re from an urban area or the countryside – they even provide transport! All project equipment and kit is provided, including high quality binoculars, thanks to sponsorship from Opticron plus a wildlife guide. Participants are even given a cosy New Shoots fleece to wear – they’ll just need to wear their own sturdy shoes and clothes suitable for the outdoor weather. There’s no pressure – no tests or exams – with the emphasis on fun, making friends and trying new things.
Last year was the first year of the New Shoots project, and 16 young people took part. They were featured on BBC’s Countryfile, and won a Pride of Bucks award for their inspiring work championing nature and wildlife as part of the project. See what the team got up to last year by watching this New Shoots video: https://youtu.be/-M-x-aqPmqc
To apply, participants can either fill in a project application form or make a video application. The deadline for applications is Friday 13 May. Visit the Chilterns Conservation Board website to find out more and to apply: www.chilternsaonb.org/new-shoots
Participants don’t need to be super confident or have prior experience to take part, they just need to demonstrate a genuine interest in nature and be able to commit to most of the eleven sessions. If you’re a teacher or other adult who knows a suitable young person but who might be reluctant to apply, give Chiltern Rangers a call to discuss and ask questions on: 01494 474486 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘What an utterly wonderful programme. F’s enjoyed herself so much, meeting new people with shared interests, learning new things, hearing from experts, getting down and dirty! Couldn’t recommend New Shoots highly enough.’ – Parent
‘Thank you once again for all you have done for Tom and the opportunities you have opened up for him. I’m so pleased for him and proud of him and it’s given him a real confidence boost.’ – Parent
The programme is run by Chiltern Rangers as part of the Chalk Cherries and Chairs Landscape Partnership Scheme (overseen by the Chilterns Conservation Board). It’s delivered in partnership with Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, the Chiltern Society and the National Trust. Supported by National Heritage Lottery Fund and Opticron.