Octavia Hill Awards: The Professional Wild Hero shortlist

This year, the Octavia Hill Awards are looking for heroes who have helped children and young adults connect with the outdoors and wildlife – passing on their own experience, enthusiasm and love of nature. We want to celebrate the people who have made a real difference to the youngsters around them – helping to inspire a life-long love of the outdoors and wildlife.

The Professional Wild Hero award is for someone who works with children - including teachers, social workers, healthcare professionals and others - who has gone beyong the call of duty to open their eyes to the natural world around them. Voting closes midday Sunday 31st AugustHere are the shortlisted nominees. 

1. Edward 'Red-Fox' Harding

Welton Free Rangers Forest School Nursery, Midsomer Norton

Ed, fondly known as the 'Red-Fox', has dedicated his professional career to nurturing and instilling awe and wonder of the natural world in the youngest of learners. As a qualified teacher and Forest School Practitioner, Ed shares his knowledge of local flora and fauna with groups of up to 12 pre-school aged children each day. Ed believes that all children should learn through experiences to appreciate the natural world around them. Perhaps the most significant aspect of Ed’s delivery when out and about with his “Free Rangers” is that he identifies that playing and learning outside also promotes social and emotional development. Ed’s ultimate aim is to build communities from the grassroots that co-exist with nature in a respectful and positive way.

2. Chris Gregory

Out2Play, Isle of Man  

Chris tirelessly sets up schemes that encourage children to interact with the outdoors through play. He has devised the Isle of Man's play policy, helping to change parents’ perceptions of outdoor activity and making them feel more at ease with their children tree climbing and playing in rivers. He also negotiated with the Health and Safety Inspectorate for a more common sense approach to managing risk in play provision. Chris has introduced 'Play bins' at over a quarter of the Isle of Man's primary schools, allowing children to experience self directed outdoor play using nothing more than 'junk' items. He also set up a national conference and has brought decision makers together to organise Isle of Play 2016. Above all, he promotes children's well-being and instills positive relationships with the outdoors that they will carry through into adulthood.

3. Jenny McAllister

Education Officer, Scottish Seabird Centre

With a wealth of experience and infectious enthusiasm, Jenny works with over 9000 school and pre-school children per year and she always makes learning fun. Working with all age groups from nursery to tertiary, Jenny has developed a curriculum-linked outdoor learning programme that includes rockpool rambles, scavenger hunts, beach cleans, shelter building, bird surveys and map reading. Jenny is skilled at creating a rapport with visiting children and teachers frequently comment on how she is able to get the most from children who do not work well in a classroom environment. During the school holidays, she takes the part of ‘Professor Egghead’, performing daily interactive science shows. In 2011 Jenny set up a weekly after-school wildlife club, in association with the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The club takes part in wildlife surveys, film making, photography and conservation activities. Jenny instills confidence in children that they too can make a difference.

4. Sandra Buchan

Science teacher, Aberdeenshire

With over 20 years of experience working in secondary schools, Sandra is particularly interested in engaging 14-16 year-olds with the local environment, including outdoor learning within their core lessons and working on specific projects, such as waste management, that allow them to take more responsibility. She hopes to encourage pupils to become more informed about the environment as they move towards leaving school and becoming adults. Recently she created a 'Fresh Air Friday' course which included regular walks, visits to local nature sites and gardening, aiming to develop skills and confidence beyond the curriculum. She organises a school EcoDay, engineering competitions and assembly presentations about the environmental work the pupils are undertaking. A key part of Sandra’s teaching is a desire to instill in future generations a general understanding of the environment and their role in managing and enjoying the world they live in.

5. John Blaney

Forest Schools, Bridgewater College, Somerset

John helped introduce the concept of forest schools to the UK through his work with Bridgwater College. He works tirelessly in schools all over the UK and abroad to inspire a love for learning in the outdoors in children and adults, and brings a little bit of magic to every lesson. He does a lot of work with inner city schools in London to enable children in urban environments to learn more about nature.  He works with 'difficult' children and teenagers to help them develop confidence, self respect and creativity as well as learning valuable skills such as cooking and co-operative problem solving. Teachers who have met John say that he has transformed the way they teach environmental education. Through helping to set up the Forest School movement in the UK, he has left a lasting legacy of loving learning in (and about) the environment in millions of children.

VOTE FOR THE WINNER OF THE PROFESSIONAL WILD HERO AWARD

You may need to register in order to vote - this is to prevent multiple voting. 

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This year, the Octavia Hill Awards are looking for heroes who have helped children and young adults connect with the outdoors and wildlife – passing on their own experience, enthusiasm and love of nature. We want to celebrate the people who have made a real difference to the youngsters around them – helping to inspire a life-long love of the outdoors and wildlife.

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The Professional Wild Hero award is for someone who works with children – including teachers, social workers, healthcare professionals and others – who has gone beyong the call of duty to open their eyes to the natural world around them. Voting closes midday Sunday 31st AugustHere are the shortlisted nominees. 

1. Edward ‘Red-Fox’ Harding

Welton Free Rangers Forest School Nursery, Midsomer Norton

Ed, fondly known as the ‘Red-Fox’, has dedicated his professional career to nurturing and instilling awe and wonder of the natural world in the youngest of learners. As a qualified teacher and Forest School Practitioner, Ed shares his knowledge of local flora and fauna with groups of up to 12 pre-school aged children each day. Ed believes that all children should learn through experiences to appreciate the natural world around them. Perhaps the most significant aspect of Ed’s delivery when out and about with his “Free Rangers” is that he identifies that playing and learning outside also promotes social and emotional development. Ed’s ultimate aim is to build communities from the grassroots that co-exist with nature in a respectful and positive way.

2. Chris Gregory

Out2Play, Isle of Man  

Chris tirelessly sets up schemes that encourage children to interact with the outdoors through play. He has devised the Isle of Man’s play policy, helping to change parents’ perceptions of outdoor activity and making them feel more at ease with their children tree climbing and playing in rivers. He also negotiated with the Health and Safety Inspectorate for a more common sense approach to managing risk in play provision. Chris has introduced ‘Play bins’ at over a quarter of the Isle of Man’s primary schools, allowing children to experience self directed outdoor play using nothing more than ‘junk’ items. He also set up a national conference and has brought decision makers together to organise Isle of Play 2016. Above all, he promotes children’s well-being and instills positive relationships with the outdoors that they will carry through into adulthood.

3. Jenny McAllister

Education Officer, Scottish Seabird Centre

With a wealth of experience and infectious enthusiasm, Jenny works with over 9000 school and pre-school children per year and she always makes learning fun. Working with all age groups from nursery to tertiary, Jenny has developed a curriculum-linked outdoor learning programme that includes rockpool rambles, scavenger hunts, beach cleans, shelter building, bird surveys and map reading. Jenny is skilled at creating a rapport with visiting children and teachers frequently comment on how she is able to get the most from children who do not work well in a classroom environment. During the school holidays, she takes the part of ‘Professor Egghead’, performing daily interactive science shows. In 2011 Jenny set up a weekly after-school wildlife club, in association with the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The club takes part in wildlife surveys, film making, photography and conservation activities. Jenny instills confidence in children that they too can make a difference.

4. Sandra Buchan

Science teacher, Aberdeenshire

With over 20 years of experience working in secondary schools, Sandra is particularly interested in engaging 14-16 year-olds with the local environment, including outdoor learning within their core lessons and working on specific projects, such as waste management, that allow them to take more responsibility. She hopes to encourage pupils to become more informed about the environment as they move towards leaving school and becoming adults. Recently she created a ‘Fresh Air Friday’ course which included regular walks, visits to local nature sites and gardening, aiming to develop skills and confidence beyond the curriculum. She organises a school EcoDay, engineering competitions and assembly presentations about the environmental work the pupils are undertaking. A key part of Sandra’s teaching is a desire to instill in future generations a general understanding of the environment and their role in managing and enjoying the world they live in.

5. John Blaney

Forest Schools, Bridgewater College, Somerset

John helped introduce the concept of forest schools to the UK through his work with Bridgwater College. He works tirelessly in schools all over the UK and abroad to inspire a love for learning in the outdoors in children and adults, and brings a little bit of magic to every lesson. He does a lot of work with inner city schools in London to enable children in urban environments to learn more about nature.  He works with ‘difficult’ children and teenagers to help them develop confidence, self respect and creativity as well as learning valuable skills such as cooking and co-operative problem solving. Teachers who have met John say that he has transformed the way they teach environmental education. Through helping to set up the Forest School movement in the UK, he has left a lasting legacy of loving learning in (and about) the environment in millions of children.

VOTE FOR THE WINNER OF THE PROFESSIONAL WILD HERO AWARD

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You may need to register in order to vote – this is to prevent multiple voting.