By Betsy Everett
A new national park scheme is giving young people the chance to learn about their cultural heritage and history while doing practical work like tree-chopping and wall-building.
In her role as young rangers officer for the Yorskhire Dales national park, Rachael Alderson urged Askrigg and Low Abbotside parish councillors to help her reach more 11 to 16 year olds in the area who might be interested in joining the action-packed programme.
“The range of activities for young people round and about is really quite limited. There are scouts and cubs and cycling but we can introduce them to a whole range of other activities which are fun and interesting but which also teach them about their environment,” said Rachael.
She is also looking for “small jobs” that need doing in the area covered broadly by Hawes, Aysgarth and Sedbergh.
“Maybe a small stone wall for them to try, or some hedging or planting. I need to find places that want these jobs doing and with experienced people who can share their skills.”
Council members agreed finding jobs wouldn’t be a problem and chairman, Allen Kirkbride, said the young rangers scheme was a “great opportunity” for young people.
“There’s such a lot they can learn and we can help you get the word out by circulating local businesses with details of the programme,” he said.
The young rangers scheme started in Settle four years ago and proved so successful it was extended with Rachael’s appointment last autumn to cover the western and northern areas of the national park.
Rachael’s group, currently about 20-strong, meets once a month on a Saturday morning in Aysgarth and travel throughout the area doing practical jobs while learning about woodland management, footpath repairs and maintenance, conservation, dry stone walling and a range of other rural crafts.
“There’s not a lot of opportunity for informal education around here, and this helps young people understand the history and cultural heritage by recognising and working on things they might pass every day, such a lime kilns,” said Rachael, who has helped to run youth clubs in Askrigg and Hawes.
The national park authority is also providing apprenticeships for 16-24-year-olds and the young rangers scheme could be a way into that. There will be a new intake next year.
The two new groups are being funded through the Green Futures programme and is led by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust. There is more information on the Dales Young Rangers Facebook page @dalesyoungrangers and on the national park authority website at www.yorkshiredales.org.uk. Rachael can be contacted on 01969 652366 or email email@example.com.