As part of our plans to develop our recreational facilities at the forest, we’re keen to provide formal and informal forest education for people of all ages. We believe that forests are great places for children (and adults!) to learn about all sorts of things. It’s an environment that encourages curiosity and exploration, and helps to build self-esteem and confidence. As well as working closely with the local primary school, we’ve run a number of courses, from woodworking weekends to art workshops, and have lots more planned for the future.
As a result of our work uncovering the heritage of the forest, we have developed a teaching resource pack called ’The History of Our Forest - Learning About Our Heritage
’. It gives Tighnabruaich Primary School pupils and other visiting schools and groups a snapshot of the history of Kilfinan Community Forest. This will help with outdoor learning, providing the tools to explore the heritage sitting right on the doorstep. Please feel free to download the pack
Pupils at Tighnabruaich Primary School enjoy Forest School once a week and we do everything we can to support this. The school leases two official Forest School sites from us, as well as having the run of the rest of the forest. Before community ownership of the forest, these sites, which are right next to the school, were impenetrable. One of the first things we did was to clear the area of Rhododendrons to create an open, native woodland. We also built a path from the back road to the school that continues up to the forest. This gave the pupils easy walking access to the woods and to the village. We then helped the school create a forest shelter. The pupils came up with the design (a curved-leaf shape) and we built it using wood from the Forest School site.
Tighnabruaich Primary School has been involved in a number of other projects in the forest. For example, planting a tree nursery, taking part in art projects and coming along to the hydro scheme switch-on. KCFC also supported the school to organise and run an event during British Science Week 2015 that was attended by three other Cowal primary schools and members of the public around the theme of food and growing. In addition, the school has two raised beds in the community allotment area where they grow vegetables with support from the Kyles Allotment Group.
The Froglife Project will offer new learning opportunities. The children will be able to help us create hibernacula (safe places for amphibians and reptiles to overwinter) from wood and pond spoil and to monitor the amphibian and reptile populations in the spring. The forest’s heritage, too, will be great for the kids to get to grips with. Secondary School
Our Youth Skills Development provides paid summer work and experience for 16 to 18 year olds, helping them to gain new skills to add to their CVs and learning about everything from tree identification to first aid, path design, woodworking, hands-on civil engineering, risk assessment and health and safety.
We’re always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to expand our forest education offering. We know that there’s a good spread of land-based skills and art skills in the community and we would love to draw on these. If you have any thoughts on how you might help, please get in touch.