Sharing Experiences - Moors and Valleys YAC and the Explorer Volunteers
The Moors and Valleys YAC joined forces with the North York Moors National Park's Explorer Volunteers to share some of their fantastic activities with one another. Tammy Andrews, the Family Engagement Co-ordinator, tells us all about how they got on.
Sharing Experiences - The YAC and Explorer Volunteers
The North York Moors National Park provides families and children with a range of opportunities to engage with the Park. Often, due to popularity there are waiting lists for these groups, so we decided to run a joint session with our YAC members and our Explorer Volunteer families.
In the morning we focussed on archaeology. Nick who leads the YAC explained what it was and talked about the type of things the club get up to. Some of the Explorer children were a little disappointed to find out that it didn’t involve hunting and digging up dinosaur bones! Despite that, they soon got stuck in to the two activities that were on offer.
The first fascinating task was sorting a selection of different artefacts into groups depending on what they were made of e.g. pottery, leather. It was the parts of old shoes and bones that interested everyone the most. Some of the shoes were so well preserved, that you could see the how they were made with layers of leather stitched together. Sadly, the sorting activity also contained plastic litter which provided a good opportunity to talk about how some materials decompose and others don’t which is why plastic is such an environmental problem.
The second task involved going on a ‘dig’ and searching for buried objects. Nick demonstrated how to use the tools to gently dig and scrap away the ‘soil’ in order to avoid damaging the artefacts. Once the objects had been unearthed, the group were shown how to record what they had found by taking measurements and doing sketches.
In the afternoon, the YAC found out about the work undertaken by the Explorer Volunteer families. These are families that have been members of the National Park’s Explorer Club. The Explorer Club is a six-month project, which introduces families to volunteering and gives them the opportunity to participate in a variety of practical conservation tasks. They then ‘graduate’ to become Explorer Volunteers and are able to continue volunteering.
Denise, who is the Explorer Volunteer Co-ordinator, said a bit about the type of work the Explorer Volunteers do and revealed that the afternoon’s task would involve trimming a hedge along the side of a footpath in order to ensure the vegetation didn’t impede walkers.
As sharp tools were going to be used, the session started as all Explorer Volunteer sessions start with a Health and Safety briefing. Denise explained what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was needed and why. She also described how to use the tools safely. After everyone was kitted out in the correct PPE, they set to work cutting back the vegetation. Both groups worked really well together and in no time at all, a 50 metre stretch of hedge had been pruned on both sides.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the joint session and learnt lots about each other’s work. So often, mainly due to lack of staff time, groups work in isolation of other groups, so it was a refreshing change to be able to share experiences with other people.
We would definitely recommend other YACs to seek opportunities to partner up with other groups working with children in their area. Being able to share their experiences, helps build confidence and provides them with a greater understanding of the work of other local groups.
It was so successful that we are looking to make it an annual event!
If you are interested in joining the Moors and Valleys YAC, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org