Case Study: Wye Valley AONB Youth Rangers
The Youth Rangers programme enables about 15 young people aged 14-16 years old who live in or around the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to undertake a 2 year programme of regular activities including archaeology, bushcraft, caving, deer management, drystone walling, habitat conservation work, hedge-laying, film making, game-keeping, kayaking and rural skills demonstrations at shows.
The Youth Rangers gain access to some of the most beautiful and interesting parts of our special landscape; face personal challenges, gain insight, inspiration and motivation, with support and training from dedicated staff and volunteers to help them along the way. 2015/16 saw the hand-over from the 2nd cohort of AONB Youth Rangers to the 3rd cohort.
What was done
The Second cohort of 16 Wye Valley AONB Youth Rangers completed their 2 years with a ‘graduation event’ and a Summer Camp at Kate Humble’s farm and rural skills centre ‘Humble by Nature’ (She is Patron of our Youth Rangers).
The third cohort of 18 Wye Valley AONB Youth Rangers were recruited. This followed a taster event hosted in September and attended by 26 young people and their families. Further taster and familiarisation events were carried out over Half Term week in October and additional promotional events and presentations were given in local Secondary Schools. The monthly programme of events included; January – First aid outdoors & land management, February – charcoal project, coppicing & filming, March – All about deer, monitoring & tracking.
The Wye Valley AONB Unit have been running the Youth Rangers programme for nearly five years and in that time the key outputs have included:
- a programme of regular activity for over 45 young people aged 14-16yrs i.e. 3 cohorts of about 15. The programme is designed to increase the young people’s knowledge and understanding of their heritage through 20+ activities over the two years of each cohort (roughly one outing per month per year on a Saturday for the whole day).
- recruitment and training of 3 key volunteers who support and help to deliver the programme.
- increased expertise of AONB staff in creating, funding and delivering the programme.
- involvement and in kind contribution of a broad range of partners including: the Forestry Commission, Deer Initiative, NRW, Gwent Wildlife Trust, Wye and Usk Foundation, Monmouthshire Countryside Service, Monnow Rivers Association, Staunton Meend Restoration Project, Coppett Hill Common Trust, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, Herefordshire Rural Media company, Lydbrook Parish Council, local historian Heather Hurley, and The Desperate Men; the Wye Valley River Festival artistic directors.
In addition we have worked with a range of landowners: the Perrystone Estate and around 4 different farms that have been winners or runners up in the AONB Farming Awards.
- engaged young people’s families and communities in the programme through events and promotional materials, sharing the new knowledge and experience of their children widely at open days, exhibitions and through all media channels.
- young people have gained a broad range of new knowledge and increased skills and gain accreditation for their efforts, with certificates in: first aid, Kayak 1* and Film making.
Many Youth Rangers have been able to use their time with the programme to fulfil D of E requirements for Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards.
- the Young People from cohort 1 continue to engage with Youth Rangers. Five are now studying ecology, geography, biology or agriculture at university. One has completed a course in countryside management and is looking to work in the woodland skill sector. One has a job at the Perrystone Estate as a trainee Gamekeeper. One is studying tourism at Herefordshire College.
- 10 Youth Ranger events/activities held
- 33 young people aged between 14-16 engaged.
- The enthusiasm and commitment of the young people on the programme.
- The dedication of the volunteers and staff in supporting the Youth Rangers.
- The support of partner organisations and landowners in providing training, activities and venues, often as in-kind contributions.
- The first 2 cohorts were predominantly funded by Heritage Lottery Fund- Your Heritage. The 3rd cohort is being funded predominantly by the AONB Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) and the Herefordshire Community Foundation. HLF were very flexible in extending the time period of their funding, allowing us time to secure resources for a 3rd cohort.
Wye Valley AONB Partnership
01600 713 977
Quote from participants:
“I have gained a lot of knowledge …and it’s quite inspiring how many people get together to conserve our countryside.” – Glen Baker
“I feel that Youth Rangers has given me a much larger insight into the management of the Wye Valley which I think is really valuable information….” – Elin Crossland
Key search words: Youth Ranger, Young people, Conservation, Training, Heritage Lottery Fund, Your Heritage, Sustainable Development Fund
Photo Credits: Youth Rangers – Wye Valley AONB