27 May 2024

Junior Ranger Award success for environment-focused Banff Academy students

Students from Banff Academy have become the latest to receive their Junior Ranger Award after successfully completing a host of environmental activities.

Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service and the school’s outdoor learning coordinator Neil Murray have been supporting the nine S1 pupils throughout the six-week programme created by the Scottish Countryside Rangers Association.

Aimed at participants aged between 11 and 18, this national programme is delivered at a local level and provides direct involvement with the local countryside ranger service and other land managers. 

Participants take ownership of their scheme and its activities within the framework of the national programme. 

The Banff Academy pupils focused on various aspects of Ranger activity including knowledge of and care for a site, care for visitors, events and interpretation and working with others.

After their introduction to the programme, the Junior Rangers sowed wildflower seeds within the school grounds and went on a guided walk around local woodlands to discuss the area’s wildlife and looking at how to prepare for events. 

The second week saw them head for Bennachie where Garioch Ranger Alison Sutherland taught them navigation skills before they headed up Mither Tap.

Spey Bay was the next venue as the team visited the Whale & Dolphin Centre where Education Coordinator Lorna Hall showed the group how to tell the difference between whales, dolphins and porpoises before they took part in Shore Watch - a Citizen Science cetacean survey. The Junior Rangers also got hands-on by undertaking a beach litter pick.

Week 4 saw the Junior Rangers refreshing their first aid knowledge, being supported by Derek Page from the Scottish Ambulance Service who showed them around his ambulance before teaching them the basics of first aid and the importance of CPR. They then explored the Boyndie Airdrome Heritage Trail where they encountered several mock injuries to practice these important skills.

The following week saw the pupils team up with overseas students from Kronach in Germany who were visiting as part of the Historic Banffshire and Kronach twinning partnership. They enjoyed a visit to one of the working woodlands owned and managed by Seafield Estates. Forestry manager Caitlin Erskine lead the tour as they surveyed badgers. It was followed by a trip to Sunnyside Beach to participate in a study of rock pools, as well as learning about the history of the area including the story of Charlie the Hermit who made his home along the coast near Sunnyside.

In their final week, the Junior Rangers prepared a display for parents and guests demonstrating their experiences and the skills they have learned before being presented with their certificates by Lord Lieutenant for Banffshire Andrew Simpson and Ewan Wallace, head of Environment and Sustainability Services at Aberdeenshire Council.

Neil Murray said: “The Junior Ranger Award has been a great opportunity for this group of Banff Academy pupils to learn about rural careers, connect with nature and to develop practical skills like navigation and first aid. I look forward to running the award with groups in the future in partnership with the Aberdeenshire Countryside Ranger Service.” 

Ewan Wallace said: “The range of tasks which are undertaken by pupils throughout this programme really helps them to build confidence and develop new skills. Successful participation in the Junior Ranger Award and fully recognises the young person’s commitment to the Ranger Service and the environment. It’s a really valuable programme which works to develop the skills and knowledge necessary for employment in environmental conservation and other generic transferable skills. By helping young people on their journey towards being career ready, the scheme also helps to develop the next generation of rangers and promotes rangering as a career path for young people.”

Junior rangers receiving their certificates