We had an extremely enthusiastic response to the launch of myForest for Educators from many of the 200 Forest School Leaders present at the Forest School Association conference 26-28th September at Danbury Outdoor Centre, Essex.
Our Education Manager Jen Hurst, and Oxfordshire Forest School Service Forest School trainer Sarah Lawfull, presented myForest to 20 Forest School trainers at their national network meeting and ran practical myForest workshops for Forest School Leaders from across the country. Workshop participants produced inventories and management plans for their forest school sites and were impressed by the accessibility of the myForest tools. Many Forest School Leaders expressed how valuable myForest would be to them:
“myForest will not only be useful for managing our forest school site but it will also show the organisations that we work with that we are serious about woodland management. It is so great to have an organisation like Sylva behind us with training, advice and links into forestry.”
Forest School Trainer and Leader, London.
An unexpected and exciting outcome from the weekend was realising the potential to take myForest into the classroom as an educational tool. One practitioner commented:
“I am not going to train the teachers how to use myForest … I will train the young people to use it so they can do their own woodland management plans!”
Countryside Ranger, Scotland.
Several Educators identified the many curriculum links they could make using myForest with young people at primary and secondary levels such as Geography (mapping), Maths (inventory), English (reporting), Science (tree identification and ecological impact assessment), and ICT. Both Sylva and the Forest School Association believe that empowering young people to manage their forest school sites will give them a deeper connection to their sites, provide a real life decision making task as well as educating them in woodland management, ecology and forestry.
The feedback gained from Forest School Leaders at the conference will be crucial in shaping the new version of myForest for Educators which we plan to launch in March 2015. In partnership with the Forest School Association we will support Forest School trainers across the country with myForest so that hundreds of Forest School Leaders will learn to use it. In the meantime if any Forest Leaders or Educators would like to use myForest and provide further feedback we would value your input – contact email@example.com . Development and dissemination of myForest for Educators has been made possible by the Patsy Wood Trust.
Thanks go to the Forest School Association for the organisation of a successful conference and Sylva looks forward to continuing our partnership with them over the coming year.