The Greensand Trust's Youth Ranger Scheme at Houghton Hall Park, Houghton Regis, was Highly Commended in the Young People category of the recent CPRE Bedfordshire's Living Countryside Awards 2018.

CPRE Bedfordshire held its bi-annual awards evening on 3rd October 2018 in the Harpur Suite at Bedford Corn Exchange with over 100 people attending. The awards were presented by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis.

The 2018 Living Countryside Awards saw the biggest number of applications yet with 32 projects shortlisted across six categories (Biodiversity & Llandscape Improvement, Local Food & Drink, Young People, Greening Urban Spaces, Health & Wellbeing and Sustainable Enterprise).

The were five strong entries in the Young People category which was won by The Vale Academy in Dunstable:

  1. Bedford Modern Junior School Eco Club Commended
  2. Greensand Trust - Youth Rangers Highly Commended
  3. Shelton Lower School Highly Commended
  4. The Vale Academy, Dunstable  Winner
  5. Young Falconers – The English School of Falconry Highly Commended

The Youth Ranger Scheme provides young people aged 13-18 an opportunity to learn new skills, gain valuable work experience and a recognised environmental award, while having fun and making a difference to Houghton Hall Park in Houghton Regis. The first scheme ran from September 2017 - February this year with youth rangers required to attend two sessions per month including one weekend and one evening. 

They took part in practical conservation projects, organised events and worked with other volunteers in the park while gaining a John Muir Award - an environmental award scheme focusing on discovering and conserving wild places. The second year of the scheme has just begun with a new intake of students.

CPRE introduced an award aimed at schools recognising the efforts of young people in its 2016 awards. For 2018 the category was broadened the category so that it now recognises a wider range of projects by or for young people which encourage engagement with the natural world.

Judges were looking for projects meeting any of these criteria:

  • Be aimed at school age children and / or created by them
  • Engage children with the local countryside, heritage or environment
  • Provide education programmes to support the national curriculum
  • Be any or all of - practical, creative, empowering
  • Encourage children to grow, cook or eat local food