New educational partnership launched on John Muir Day

East Ayrshire Council begins new educational project with John Muir Trust as part of John Muir Day celebrations

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A new partnership between East Ayrshire Council and the John Muir Trust was launched today to promote the Trust’s main engagement initiative, the John Muir Award. It aims to increase outdoor learning activity and help close the poverty-related attainment gap.

Scots-born John Muir is considered to be the founder of the modern world conservation movement and the world’s national parks system. John Muir Day celebrations (15-23 April) are an opportunity to mark his birthday, 21 April 1838, as well as his legacy and relevance today.

Lorna Sloan has been employed by the John Muir Trust as a John Muir Award and Attainment Project Officer to support East Ayrshire schools to improve young people’s health, literacy and numeracy – especially those less advantaged in society – as well as local environments.

Alan Ward, Head of Education with East Ayrshire Council, said: “It’s fitting that we are launching our partnership on John Muir’s birthday. People can relate to different aspects of Muir – as an adventurer, storyteller, campaigner, engineer, naturalist or writer. But for me it was his courage to follow his own path in life to make a positive difference to the world that can help inspire our young people. His message today that we all need to experience, enjoy and care for our natural environment is as relevant today as it was 150 years ago.”

Lorna Sloan, the John Muir Trust’s new East Ayrshire Project officer said: “We’re excited to partner with such a progressive local authority. Through its partnerships with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, TCV, the Brilliant Residentials campaign, and now with the John Muir Trust, East Ayrshire Council is leading the way in recognising and supporting outdoor learning as an entitlement for all pupils. We can’t wait to get started.”

Shahmirr Mirza and Melody McMichael – S2 pupils at St Joseph’s Academy, Kilmarnock – helped launch the partnership on what would’ve been the bearded pioneering conservationist’s 179th Birthday. Shahmirr wore a Muir-beard in honour of the special day, and Melody shared a #JohnMuirDay placard.

Melody McMichael said: “It’s good to get out of the classroom into the fresh air. I think I learn stuff better when I’m having fun too.”

Shahmirr Mirza said: “All over the world nature is getting destroyed so it’s important that we do our bit to help preserve it. Nature is important – it gives us food we eat and air we breathe.”

For more on the John Muir Day celebrations, and ideas on how you, your family and friends can get involved, visit Discover John Muir and search social media using #JohnMuirDay.

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Photographs show Shahmirr Mirza and Melody McMichael, S2 pupils at St Joseph’s Academy, Kilmarnock, and Lorna Sloan, John Muir Trust Project Officer.