14 students embraced the opportunity to become Junior Rangers and discover, explore and conserve four different countryside sites in the Cairngorms National Park. Over the course of the week they gained an understanding of different Ranger roles and learnt about biodiversity, land management, and responsible access.
At Dorenell windfarm on Monday, EDF Rangers Stephen and Rebecca showed them into a wind turbine, lead a walk that explored land management practices and explained the eagle monitoring project they work on. On Tuesday, the Junior Rangers learnt how to identify moth species thanks to Helen from Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service, explored Muir of Dinnet and set camera traps with Kirstin from NatureScot and adventured behind the Burn O’Vat waterfall. The Junior Rangers explored Glen Tanar by mountain bike on Wednesday, finding geocaches along the way and learning about biodiversity, responsible access and fire control with Rangers Eric and Rory. Balmoral Rangers Georgia and Glyn taught the Junior Rangers how to restore peatland at Loch Muick on Thursday and they fully immersed themselves in building leaky dams and relocating sphagnum moss. And on Friday they worked in groups to produce presentations and deliver them to teachers and peers in order to share what they had taken away from the week.
As a result of their hard work they were all presented with their John Muir Awards by Will, Ranger for the Cairngorms National Park Authority, who coordinated and supported the Junior Rangers throughout the week.
It was brilliant to see the students engaging with these important topics and expanding their skills, knowledge and confidence so that they might take critical decisions in the future.