Calling enthusiastic young ecologists! Maybe you have always had an interest in wildlife or you are thinking about this as a career - or perhaps you are in the middle of writing your UCAS application?

An exciting, hands-on opportunity “in the wild”, subsidised by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is being offered to students aged 13 – 18 at Kielder Water & Forest Park.

Free transport is provided from Hexham (numbers limited) and the cost per student is just £10 per session.

As part of the “Living Wild at Kielder” project, on Saturday 15th September and Saturday 13th October, students will venture deep into the Kielder Forest to investigate its amazing biodiversity and learn about projects to protect and improve our wild spaces.

The first event is on Saturday 15th September and students can find out what biodiversity is and how we can actively improve it. According to international biologists, we are now undergoing the sixth mass extinction – the last of these was when we lost the dinosaurs. What are we doing about this crisis? How are we trying to solve these challenges? Participants will be learning all about this, as well as gathering data to find out how we measure biodiversity. And could the Kielder Wildwood project provide a solution?

Then on Saturday 13th October you can explore aliens and re-introductions. What are alien invasive species? Why are they bad news for our native animals and plants? How can we solve some of this by bringing species back – like the Kielder water vole? Students will visit sites at Kielder Water & Forest Park where this has been happening – the popular ‘Restoring Ratty’ project - and also do some mammal detection with field signs, cameras and tracking.

This fascinating, two-day programme is delivered for Living Wild at Kielder by Albion Outdoors, specialists in ecological education, based in Otterburn and working throughout the North East. Albion Outdoors is run by biology teachers with over 50 years’ combined expertise in teaching ecology outdoors, designing courses to meet exam board criteria and managing large numbers of pupils in the field.

Lynn Turner, Director of the Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, says: “This is a fantastic opportunity for local young people and will enhance their understanding of the natural world with practical, hands-on experience at Kielder. The ‘Living Wild at Kielder’ project is all about bringing Kielder Water & Forest Park’s wonderful wildlife to life for everyone - helping people to enjoy, learn, share and immerse themselves in nature. The Young Ecologist Saturdays are an excellent and inspiring way to engage young people in this. I would like to thank National Lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting this project.”

John Hartshorne, field tutor and Director, Albion Outdoors says: “The underlying idea of the Young Ecologists programme is to find a group of young people with an interest and enthusiasm for natural history and ecology, and offer them hands-on and engaging, “in the field” ecology experience which they wouldn’t necessarily get at school. We find students working outside in a group really inspire each other and collectively develop a deeper understanding – which may lead to some going on to work in ecology professionally.”

Advance booking is essential . For more information and a registration form call 01830 520962 or email [email protected]