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Putting the Forestry into Forest Education

posted on March 31, 2017

Last week eighty forest educators came together at Bishops Wood Centre to increase their skills and knowledge in forestry at a conference run by England’s Forest Education Network (FEN). Sylva Foundation played a key role in developing the forestry theme of the conference and helping deliver the conference in its role as one of six national organisations on the FEN steering group.

Jen Hurst delivers the woodland management workshop

Jen Hurst delivers the woodland management workshop

In partnership with Royal Forestry Society and Bishops Wood, Sylva’s Education Manager Jen Hurst ran a workshop “Wonderful ways with woodland management that accommodates education”. Participants in the workshop were introduced to woodland management through games, group activities and lively discussions on the complexities of sustainably managing a woodland for multiple objectives. A Forest School Leader trainer commented:

“We are looking forward to passing on the woodland management tips to our Forest School trainees.”

During the workshop Sylva’s myForest for Education was introduced as a free online tool to support educators in developing their own woodland management plans for their sites. Some participants commented:

“It’s a really useful tool” and “Sylva Foundation was very inspiring.”

Participants also took part in two other workshops on the day including: Seeing the wood for the trees – the importance of identification and tree health awareness for woodland management, run by Forestry Commission and Field Studies Council; and Resilient Woodlands for the future, making the right tree planting choices run by the Woodland Trust and Forestry Commission.

Learning in the woods

Learning in the woods

Conference feedback showed that FEN had successfully put the forestry back into forest education!

If you would like to be involved in future FEN events, have access to free education resources, keep up to date with national forest education organisations and join this growing network of forest educators join FEN!

 


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Hundreds of young people to help plant the Future Forest

posted on January 20, 2017
Sylva's Tree Team Educators Jen Hurst and Pieternel Overweel teach the Sylva Plant a Tree! song to Robins Reception class at St Francis Church of England Primary School.

Sylva’s Tree Team Educators Jen Hurst and Pieternel Overweel teach the Sylva Plant a Tree! song to Robins Reception class at St Francis Church of England Primary School.

We have welcomed in the New Year in the best way possible: inviting hundreds of young people to plant trees in the Future Forest.

Sylva’s staff, Education Manager Jen Hurst and volunteer Pieternel Overweel, have been working closely with 20 primary school classes (500 children) thanks to funding from Tesco Bags of Help and the Ernest Cook Trust.

Sylva Tree Team

Sylva Tree Team

During January we have been visiting the schools to talk about trees, forestry and tree planting. All the children will be visiting the site of the Future Forest to plant their trees during February. These young students are excited to be joining the Sylva Tree Team.

 

School students planting the Future Forest

School students planting the Future Forest

In addition to preparing the primary schools we’ve been welcoming secondary school students and special needs groups, thanks to collaboration with Earth Trust who have long-established links with local schools.

The 600+ children helping us plant the new woodland will be a long way forward in a journey learning about and taking responsibility for the environment, after all:

“All human beings should plant one tree for every year that they live on Earth.”
Gabriel Hemery & Sarah Simblet, The New Sylva (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014)

 

 


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The Sylva Tree Team has landed

posted on January 13, 2017
Sylva Tree Team

The Sylva Tree Team

Hundreds of schoolchildren are poised to visit the Future Forest to help plant trees. Luckily they will be assisted by the Sylva Tree Team.

Name: Sylva Tree Team

Members:  Captain Chainsaw, Bark the Wonder Dog, Professor Nuts, and Sally the Psychic Squirrel

Base:  Tree Team Zone in the Sylva Future Forest

Mission:  caring for trees and forests

Powers:  silviculture

Gear:  super saws, tree gun, book of knowledge

Captain Chainsaw is strong and fearless. She helps trees grow better by pruning their branches. Sometimes she cuts trees down so their timber can be used to build houses or make furniture. Her work in the forest lets sunlight reach the trees, and helps make homes and food for wildlife. In the spring she likes to help Professor Nuts with planting more trees. She loves her steel-capped boots and super saws. Her favourite tree is the cedar.

Bark the Wonder Dog is always busy helping the Sylva Tree Team. His favourite job is digging holes to help Professor Nuts plant more trees. He often carries sticks in his mouth for Captain Chainsaw. When he thinks no one is looking, he sometimes chases Sally Squirrel!

Professor Nuts is a genius. He writes books to help everyone learn about trees and how to look after them. He knows everything about how trees grow, which trees to plant where, and how to protect them from pests and diseases. He invented a tree gun which can plant one thousand trees every hour. He sometimes forgets things, but Bark is always nearby to remind him. His favourite tree is the walnut and he really likes wearing wellington boots.

Sally the Psychic Squirrel is very sparky and lively but often invisible in the treetops. She has special powers and gives the Sylva Tree Team clues to help them see what might happen to forests in the future. This is important because trees take a long time to grow. Her archenemy is Grey Squirrel who threatens her home planet.

Sylva Tree Team poster - click to download

Sylva Tree Team poster – click to download

Resources

Download the Sylva Tree Team poster

Visit the Sylva Tree Team webpage

 

All images copyright © 2017 Mark Hawkins

Category: EDUCATION
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Hot-bench spaces available at the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on December 8, 2016
Hot bench user at the Sylva Wood Centre

Hot bench user at the Sylva Wood Centre

As part of the continuing development at the Sylva Wood Centre we have opened a new facility to allow wood-based craftpersons to rent bench space by the week.

Called Start-Up, this flexible ‘hot-benching’ system is aimed at people of all ages who would like to try their hand at setting up a wood business without the burden of taking on a long-term lease.

Hot-benchers have access to a shared machinery workshop which means they don’t have to spend large amounts of capital to get started. Machinery includes a state-of-art Martin panel saw, plus planer, thicknesser, and bandsaw.

 

Sylva Machinery Workshop

Machinery Workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre

Users will join a vibrant and friendly community of wood craftspeople and benefit from companionship, informal advice, inspiration over shared cake and coffee, and opportunities to take part in our growing programme of public exhibitions.

There are currently five benches available to rent by the week.  If you want to find out more and to discuss terms and booking, please email paul@sylva.org.uk or call 01865 408018.


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Wood Week captivates primary school

posted on November 16, 2016

An innovative week-long programme of outdoor and indoor education about trees, forestry and wood — Wood Week — was developed and tested with one lucky primary school.

Sylva Foundation’s Education Manager Jen Hurst teamed up with Forester Paul Williams, Carpenter Julian Angus and staff at Combe Church of England Primary School to provide children with a week-long programme of activities on the topic of British trees, forestry and wood. This was supported by head teacher Charlie Marshall as part of the school’s new Curiosity, Creativity and Challenge curriculum.


The week kicked off with an assembly on the OneOak Project  which provided the school with inspiration and ideas for their own tree; a Norway Spruce to be felled in the school grounds. On Day Two Paul Williams of Trees and Gardens came into school and ran forestry workshops for the children explaining his work and equipment. Jen worked with children to learn more about Norway Spruce, its biology and value and to estimate the height and age of the tree before its felling. Once felled the children re-measured the tree and watched Paul cross cut the trunk 122 rounds so that each child took one home.

Julian Angus runs his own carpentry business from the Sylva Wood Centre but also works with schools to make wood products.  On Day Three of Wood Week Julian set up a ‘pop up’ wood workshop in the school grounds and gave the Key Stage 2 (aged 7-11 years) the task of making two benches out of Douglas-fir timber. The children were completely hands-on measuring, sawing, hammering, bolting and working as a team. The benches are needed by the school to increase the seating area for outdoor learning. Key Stage 1 children (aged 4-7 years) also enjoyed using tools making tree cookies with hand drills at their Forest School sessions on the same day.

Jen Hurst led classes outside on Day Four with engaging tree identification activities. Learning the names and uses of the trees will enable staff and pupils to use their school grounds more for outdoor learning. On the same day Years 5 and 6 (aged 9-11) learned how wood was used in the past by building a wattle and daub wall out of hazel and willow as part of their Anglo-Saxon history lesson. In classrooms teachers taught lessons related to Wood Week, including literacy by comparing Norway Spruce and Oak, debated the of felling trees, and produced artwork using materials from trees. These lesson plans, resources, photos, films and activities will be uploaded onto TIMBER! website.

The finale of the week was the branding of 10 logs of Lawson Cypress donated by Blenheim Estate. Julian Angus set up a ‘pop up’ Black Smith forge complete with bellows. Key Stage two children selected the individual iron letters and branded the log poles to spell out the school’s values. Key Stage one children helped shave the bark off the logs with a spokeshave. A final school assembly was held outdoors and the offspring of the OneOak tree, a young oak sapling, was planted to replace the Norway Spruce.

There has been lots of positive feedback from parents and children, one 8 year old said:

“it was the best week of my life!” and many children have expressed an interest in careers in forestry and woodwork.

Charlie Marshall Head Teacher said:

“Schools can focus on the negatives of deforestation so we decided to look at the positive…and learn about the journey of a tree through its life…”

 

Sylva’s Education Manager Jen Hurst explained the many outcomes from Wood Week:

  • educating young people, teachers and their families about British trees, forestry and wood
  • training and enabling school teachers to use their school grounds more for outdoor learning
  • improving school grounds with benches and sculptures to enable outdoor learning
  • giving young people a genuine hands on experience making products out of wood
  • providing young people with the opportunity to meet professional foresters and carpenters
  • developing new resources for teaching and learning on British trees, forestry and wood that will be available nationally on Sylva’s TIMBER! website. “

 

If your school is interested in a Wood Week or Julian Angus workshops please contact Jen Hurst

 


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Local school children gear up for the Future Forest

posted on October 5, 2016
Willowcroft children at the Future Forest September 2016

Children from Willowcroft Community School at the Future Forest, September 2016

Tesco Bags of Help grant supports the Future Forest

Tesco Bags of Help grant supports the Future Forest

We announced two weeks ago the fabulous news that we will receive a grant from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme – read more. Voting by members of the public in Tesco stores near us in south Oxfordshire could help us attract even more funding and help us support more work with young children from local schools. Voting opens 31st October to 13th November.

This week the local paper visited to cover the story and we were lucky to have the support of children from one of the primary schools taking part in planting the Future Forest. Seven children from Willowcroft Community School came to see the bare arable field, where they will return after Christmas and help plant 7,500 trees.


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Bags of Help for Future Forest Education

posted on September 13, 2016
Tesco Bags of Help

Tesco Bags of Help

Sylva Foundation calls for votes to bag a share of £12.5million carrier bag charge fund. The charity is bidding to bag a massive cash boost from the Tesco Bags of Help initiative.

The supermarket has teamed up with Groundwork on its Bags of Help initiative, which sees grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 – all raised from the 5p bag levy – being awarded to environmental and greenspace projects.

Three groups in each of Tesco’s 416 regions have been shortlisted to receive the cash award and this month shoppers are being invited to head along to Tesco stores to vote for who they think should take away the top grant. Sylva Foundation has been shortlisted for its local region.

Big Future Forest Plot Project

Big Future Forest Plot Project

The Big Future Forest Plot Project will see over 300 children from 10 primary schools local to the Sylva Wood Centre in Long Wittenham choose and plant trees on 10 plots this winter. As the Future Forest grows schools will be offered the opportunity to use it to Forest School sessions and children and their families can visit ‘their’ school plot to see its progress and enjoy the new green space.

Dr Gabriel Hemery, CEO of Sylva Foundation explains:

“We’re so delighted to be chosen as one of the region’s projects to be funded by TESCO Bags of Help. The grant means hundreds of local children can get involved in creating and learning from this wonderful new sustainable woodland. On planting days they’ll get their hands dirty, out in the fresh air, choosing and planting many different species of new trees. And they can come back with their schools and their families for many years to come to see how the Forest grows. This is a project with a long legacy.”

Shoppers visiting Abingdon Extra, Didcot Superstore and Faringdon Metro will be able to vote for Sylva’s project: voting is open from 31st October to 13th November. Customers can cast their vote using a token given to them at the check-out in store each time they shop.

This is the second round of the initiative: the first round saw approximately eight million shoppers vote in stores up and down the country earlier this year.

Lindsey Crompton, Head of Community at Tesco, said:

“The first round of the Bags of Help initiative was a fantastic success.

“In total 1,170 community groups were awarded £8,000, £10,000 or £12,000 – that’s a massive £11.7 million being invested into local projects.

“We are already seeing some great results from groups transforming their own environmental and greenspace areas.

“We are absolutely delighted to open the voting for round two. There are some fantastic projects on the shortlists and we can’t wait to see them come to life in hundreds of communities.”

Groundwork’s national Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury, said:

“Bags of Help is giving our communities both the funding and the support to create better, healthier and greener places for everyone to enjoy.

“We’ve been thrilled to see the diversity of projects that have applied for funding, ranging from outdoor classrooms, sports facilities, community gardens, play areas and everything in between. They’re all fantastic projects that make a real difference in our neighbourhoods.

“We’re looking forward to learning the results of the customer vote and then supporting each group to bring their project to life.”


Read the full Press Release

 

 


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Volunteer supports our forest education work

posted on September 8, 2016

We’re very fortunate to have a new volunteer working in support of our forest education programme.

Pieternel Overweel, Sylva Education Officer

Pieternel Overweel, Sylva Education Officer

Pieternel Overweel has a background in Art, with a MA in Art History at Free University Amsterdam, and studied Fine Arts at the Royal Academy of Arts at the Hague. She was an art educator at the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland, California, and focussed on teaching arts and crafts when she lived in Stockholm, Sweden. Currently she runs her own company in web and print design.

Pieternel got in touch with Sylva Foundation looking for ways to get out of an office job. Currently she is finishing the Forest School Leader training at Hill End Centre, Oxfordshire.

Talking about why she decided to volunteer for Sylva Pieternel said:

“I volunteer for Sylva Foundation because it integrates the full circle of interplay of nature and arts, and at the same time allows me to put energy in something that actually matters; helping build a more sustainable future.”

We rely on the generosity of individual volunteers who provide a very wide range of skills, knowledge and experience. Find out more.

 

Category: EDUCATION
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Knife whittling workshop for educators

posted on July 8, 2016

We are pleased to offer a half-day workshop designed for Forest School Leaders and any educators interested to learn new skills with wood. It will be run by Simon Clements, Wood Carver based at the Sylva Wood Centre, supported by the Sylva Foundation.

knife whittling workshop

knife whittling workshop

During this workshop you will:

  • Learn to make your own whittling knife with a wooden handle (blades provided)
  • Learn how to care for knives including sharpening

About the tutor:

Simon Clements is a Wood Carver based at the Sylva Wood Centre, and is keen support Forest School Leaders in developing their skills with wood. He trained as a potter and came to carving via boat building and has a background in education.

Where:

The Sylva Wood Centre, Long Wittenham, OX14 4QT (see map)

When:

The course will be run on:

  • Thursday 6th October 4pm  – 7pm

Cost:

£30.00 per person

This cost includes all materials, tuition and tea/coffee.

Please bring:

  • Your own penknife or whittling knife.

Booking:

Book your place online via Charity Checkout

 

 


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Learn and share TIMBER!

posted on May 13, 2016

We’re excited to announce the launch of a brand new website: TIMBER!

Homepage of the new Timber! website

Homepage of the new Timber! website

TIMBER! offers teachers and educators inspiring resources about British trees, forests and timber. Many of the resources have been developed from the Sylva OneOak project, with new materials provided by environmental educators across Britain.

The TIMBER! website is free to use and is designed to enable teachers and educators to download and share resources.  TIMBER! also includes a directory of links to other national organisations and networks, offering resources and information on topics relating to British trees, forests and wood.

Funding from the Patsy Wood Trust supported Sylva in developing the TIMBER! website. Educators from ten schools and eight environmental education specialists offered insights and help in developing the website. Thanks to their involvement and ideas, the TIMBER! resource platform is easy to use and meets the needs of educators in searching for resources and information. In addition, many of the resources have been developed and tested with young people, both indoors and outdoors.

The launch of TIMBER! is just the start. We hope that the website will attract more and more resources from people willing to share, and help young people learn more about the natural world. Do you have resources on British trees, forests and wood that you could share? If so, simply go to TIMBER! and upload your documents, photos, films, or presentations.

“I have found the project truly inspirational . . . TIMBER! is providing a brilliant resource and expertise exchange thank you!”

Head Teacher, Oxfordshire Primary School

Education Manager for the Sylva Foundation, Jen Hurst, said:

“Sylva’s education work aims to inspire teachers, educators and young people to learn about, enjoy and appreciate British trees and wood, both indoors and out. We are excited to launch TIMBER! and continue to expand its content by working with teachers, educators and organisations across the UK.”

Visit the TIMBER! website to find out more: www.sylva.org.uk/timber


The TIMBER! project has been funded by a grant from Patsy Wood Trust.

Category: EDUCATION, Timber!
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