It’s an exciting time at Fairburn.  The air is filled with the sound of birds singing, and soon we’ll also be hearing the sound of excited school children coming to do their habitat investigations, pond dip and bug hunt. We have a range of programmes for school groups to choose from and the learning team has been working hard over the colder months making sure everything is ready for spring and summer.

Andy and Andy installing a shade area on our pond dipping platform

I've had a fantastic time getting to know new volunteers and catch up with others these last few months.  Fairburn is an incredibly friendly place to be and you really do get the feeling, as a volunteer, that you’re part of a big family where everyone is working towards the same goal, making Fairburn the very best it can be for everyone.

An average day volunteering with the education team begins with a brief run through of the plan for the day over a nice cup of tea.  After this we get to work setting up our equipment, this is when I always try and offer to do the pond dipping portion of our setting up.  We like to have a collection of creatures ready to make sure all the school children get to see something interesting, and it’s very exciting to see what comes up in the first net of the day!


Pond dipping fun!

 Schools usually arrive around 10.00am, we don our hi-vis vests to walk down to the car park and meet the coach and one of the nicest parts of the day is seeing the children descend the coach steps looking full of excitement and anticipation.  After a safety talk and toilet stop we head to the classroom to begin our session.  After that, it’s all about getting the children outside into the fresh air to have fun, whilst of course being mindful of ensuring the learning objectives of the day are met.  


Bug hunting

Towards the end of the fun filled day there are usually a lot of tired faces – we certainly keep the children busy with a raft of activities and games.  My personal favourite is the pollination game which makes a really good point about whether insect or wind pollination works better.  There’ll be much more about the activities and game in future blogs.


  Spotting nature

By about 2.30pm it’s time for our school to leave us, so after a rest and a round up of the day in the classroom it’s time to head back to the coach to wave off the children.  Then we head back in to tidy everything away.  We all help each other out with the tidy up which means it actually gets done very quickly.  This is usually followed by a cup of tea and a chat about how the day went. Then for us, like the school children, it’s home time.  Driving away I always smile and think about what a wonderful thing it is to be a volunteer at Fairburn, and how lucky I am to be a part of something so enriching, rewarding and, most of all, fun.


By Cath Murray