Nature Tots has arrived at RSPB Old Moor thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers who are keen to get children interested in nature and wildlife.
Birdwatching, pond dipping and nature story time are just some of the activities volunteers had planned for the very first session, which took place on 4 October. The programme of twice-monthly sessions is packed with creative ways to get children interacting with nature at the site, including bug hunts, treasure hunts, and even a mindfulness moment.
Kat Cheetham is one of the volunteers who has helped to plan the sessions. As a staff member at the Old Moor cafe, Kat was keen to use her 10 years of Girl Guiding leader experience to pick up on the planning of the project when her colleague Lydia Tague, who spearheaded the idea, left Old Moor. “I’ve been able to use my background to make sure it was structured, and make sure it moved at a pace, rather than just being an idea.”
RSPB Leighton Moss runs similar sessions, and shared its programme plan with the team at Old Moor. “It’s easily adaptable to all RSPBs. I think it would be a great programme nationally,” says Kat. “It makes me feel amazing.”
Sharon Longden, another volunteer who has helped build the sessions, had only just become an RSPB volunteer when Nature Tots planning began. “I was so excited to find out I would get involved in something that was being built from the ground,” she says. “As a new volunteer you don’t know what you’ve got to bring to the table, but because I’m such a regular to the site I know the birds that are there, I know my way round like the back of my hand. We’re the most amazing little team. Everybody seems to have something different to bring to it.”
The project has attracted a lot of enthusiasm – not just from the volunteers, children and parents, but from Old Moor’s Visitor Experience Manager, Julian Marston.
“They are so enthusiastic and committed to the project,” he says. “To line manage that project is an absolute pleasure because of the volunteers that are delivering it. It’s the ladies, the volunteers, their enthusiasm for the job is absolutely amazing. They’re having a really positive impact on families.”
Sharon says Nature Tots has an important role to play in teaching children about safeguarding nature. “They’re the future for the nature and wildlife. In 20 years these children are going to be adults, they’re going to be members taking their own children [to Old Moor]. It’s so important. I believe in it.”