For the Langley Academy ‘Play Your Part’ day as part of the Rising Futures Programme, the Yes Futures Coaches took two cohorts of students to RHS Garden Wisley Gardens, near Guildford for Growing Green Days. The students were to do some outdoor learning whilst volunteering with a local community project. Yes Futures had partnered with Wisley Gardens who always had some very insightful team members on hand! The day was fully organised by Yes Futures and Wisley to see how the students worked outside their comfort zones, and if they could improve on their Yes Futures Talents of confidence, communication, resilience and self awareness.
Upon arrival we were greeted by Barney Millard, our host for the day. He started off by walking us to a wooded area of the gardens and asking the students questions about the wildlife they would expect to find. There were plenty of enthusiastic and intelligent answers. Barney then asked them to identify an oak tree and he asked why trees were important, which the students were quick to answer (taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen) and also for wildlife diversity, by hosting 100’s of insect species, as well as squirrels and birds!
He also explained about Saprotrophs, such as Fungi, that absorb nutrients from decaying plants. Barney showed us a pond and explained the importance of ponds having sloping edges so that wildlife can get in and out. We then visited a large pond containing Koi Carp; not wildlife friendly, in that they ate everything and the pond also had straight sides – no doubt to keep the wildlife from being eaten by the Koi!
We then went through the gardens to the education centre where Barney handed out filled bug catchers, so that the students could get a really good look at them. He then asked them to identify the bugs and confirm whether they were Carnivores Herbivores or Detritivores/Saprotrophs. Again, there were lots of great answers. After taking the bugs back he demonstrated how make biodegradable plant pots using newspaper and a tin. Everyone made their own plant pot, filled it with compost and added a plant (Helenium Red & Gold) to take home/to school to plant. Hopefully they will bloom next summer and attract pollinators.
Barney then showed us how to make bird feeders using acorn caps, a piece of string (made from a soaked palm leave) and a mix of vegetable fat and bird seeds. Everyone then made their own. After washing the fat off their hands, it was then time for lunch. Yes Futures had organised food for everyone to reward them for their hard work. Lunch finished the groups got together for a debrief.
The students then got into their coaching groups and with their coach discussed what they’d learnt from the day and what they’d do differently as a result. Each group also thought about which of the talents they’d further developed and they presented this in their groups. Most students highlighted that they’d gained confidence, had a better understanding of wildlife and gardens, and their impact on the environment.
Hopefully the students will get to see their Helenium bloom in the summer and enjoy seeing birds eating from their feeders.
Barney was an insightful and friendly guide for the day. His wide variety of knowledge on the environment and conservation certainly inspired a lot of students and taught them many lessons. From the whole Yes Futures team we want to thank Barney and the Wisley Gardens Team for sharing the day with us!
To find out more about how your students could get involved with the Yes Futures Programmes, please contact Sophie, Impact Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org, 07908 687779 or visit our website.
If you're interested in becoming a Play Your Part partner, please contact Helena, Head of Programmes: email@example.com.