Learning centre students celebrate outdoor achievements

A group of 14 students from Ardfern Learning Centre in Alexandria were presented with the prestigious John Muir Award at a special ceremony

A group of 14 students from Ardfern Learning Centre in Alexandria were presented with the prestigious John Muir Award at a special ceremony today (29 April) at the headquarters of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

The school, which works with young people with social and behavioural needs, had been working towards the John Muir Award since last autumn. They visited various wild places in the National Park including Conic hill, Balmaha and Ben Lomond.

The group enjoyed the unique natural habitats through orienteering, hill walking, scavenger hunts and photography. Working with National Park rangers, students learnt new skills around rights, responsibilities and respecting the environment and the interests of other people. The group also took part in litter surveys to help monitor and improve local habitats.

Depute Centre Manager, Darren McGlinchey, of Ardfern Learning Centre said: “Taking part in the John Muir Award allowed the pupils to explore and appreciate parts of their local National Park they would not normally have access to.

“They learned about the issues facing the Park, and got involved in practical activities to help solve them. They really enjoyed it, and I was really impressed by the commitment and effort they put in.”

The activity was made possible by a partnership forged last year between the John Muir Trust and the National Park, which has adopted the John Muir Award as one of its main educational initiatives. The partnership aims to encourage people from all backgrounds to follow in the footsteps of John Muir by learning about and enjoying the special qualities of the National Park.

Bridget Jones, Head of Visitor Management at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park said: “The John Muir Award is one of the valuable ways we reach a wide audience of schools, youth programmes, adult groups and families who live in and around the National Park.

“It helps us to share what’s great about the Park, and support people in understanding how to enjoy it in a way that encourages us all to look after it for the future.”

Rob Bushby, John Muir Award UK Manager added: “The John Muir Trust's partnership in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is something we're all extremely proud of. It's fitting that in Muir’s centenary year we are celebrating people enjoying and caring for Scotland’s first National Park by participating in the John Muir Award.”