John Muir Award marks quarter million milestone

The 250,000th John Muir Award is celebrated at a special presentation at Camley Street Natural Park in London

250k recipient zak lakota baldwin detail

London Wildlife Trust volunteer Zak Lakota-Baldwin became the 250,000th John Muir Award recipient at a special presentation at Camley Street Natural Park in London’s King’s Cross.

The Award was set up by the Trust in 1997 to get more people enjoying and caring for nature. Schools, families, outdoor centres, adult learning groups, unemployment charities and health organisations are among the hundreds of groups that use it to get people actively involved in their local environment. A quarter of all those achieving the John Muir Award are from social inclusion backgrounds.

Zak has been volunteering with London Wildlife Trust for over a year. “To me, the really special thing about Camley Street is the fact that it’s a home to nature right in the heart of London. It’s a little pocket of the wild world, only ten minutes walk from my own home, and so I feel a great connection to it. I’ve been using the John Muir Award to help explore and understand the wild places close to me.”

The event also included a presentation of John Muir Awards to participants with the New Roots Project – a programme of gardening, training and practical conservation activities for prisoners and ex-offenders. A guided walk demonstrated their achievements, from creating a barge full of herbs and fruit crops to pond management and creation of an inner-city wild flower meadow.

“The John Muir Award helps recognise and celebrate the positive contribution that our volunteers make, said New Roots Project Manager Karolina Leszczynska-Gogol. “Its format helps us make strong connections between people and places. It encourages sharing of experiences, and provides a nationally recognised certificate to include in CVs and job applications.”

Presenting the milestone certificate, Daniel Raven-Ellison from the campaign for a Greater London National Park City said:  “It’s fantastic to see organisations working together to encourage thousands of people to enjoy themselves and benefit from time in nature – and help nature and society to benefit too. I’m delighted to have been asked to present the 250,000th John Muir Award.”

Chair of the John Muir Trust Peter Pearson added: “When it was launched, the John Muir Award was a small-scale, localised project. It’s now a significant part of our core work, giving the Trust a presence with many diverse partners, and helping to share our values with new audiences throughout the UK. This is a milestone that our trustees and members can take real pride in.”

250k recipient at London ceremony