Farmers recognised at awards for outstanding contribution to Learning Outside the Classroom 2015
Wednesday, 02 December 2015 13:24

1. Martin BirseTwo of this year’s Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Learning Outside the Classroom have been won by people working in farm education.

2. N Hastings Awards

Nick Hastings, Head Stockperson at Walby Farm Park achieved LOtC Inspiring Educator, and Martin Birse, Far

The Awards for Outstanding Contribution to LOtC recognise individuals and teams of people who have made a significant impact on the lives of children and young people through their commitment and dedication to providing inspiring learning outside the classroom opportunities. Learning outside the classroom plays an important role in helping young people to achieve their goals by providing hands-on practical experiences that bring learning to life.  Whether it is through fieldwork, school ground activities, educational visits to venues such as museums, galleries or farm activity centres, or cultural expeditions abroad, LOtC can build lasting, positive learning experiences.m Manager for Pitgaveny Farms won the Lifetime Achievement in LOtC award. The awards were made at a ceremony at Gilwell Park Scout Activity Centre on 26th November.

Both men were recognised for their commitment to educating children and young people about farming and the countryside. Nick Hastings has worked at Walby Farm Park since 2011, and has developed a range of events, including a ferret show and live milking demonstration to raise awareness and interest in farming. Nick says of his work: “It’s surprising how many children, even in a rural county like Cumbria, haven’t had the opportunity to see wildlife first hand.  On the farm it’s the whole life cycle, growing crops, how the straw and grain are used, how the muck is then spread; we can show the whole farming process and how it’s all ploughed back in.”

Martin Birse has been Farm Manager at Pitgaveny farms for nearly 30 years. In addition to hosting many farm visits for primary and secondary pupils, he is also very involved with the Royal Northern Countryside Initiative, an educational charity which aims to help children and their teachers in the north east of Scotland develop a greater understanding of farming and the working countryside. Martin says of his work: “I am lucky that I am in the position where I have the ability to take people up close to see the animals and machinery and make the farm come alive for them and I feel that it’s my duty to educate people on the link between the food they eat and where it comes from.”

Janet Hickinbottom, National Education Officer at FACE commented:

"We are delighted that representatives from the farming sector have been recognised for their achievements and dedication to educating children and young people.  All too often farms don't come to mind when outdoor learning is considered but we know from experience that farm visits play a tremendous role in educating children about how their food is produced and how our beautiful countryside is managed.  Well done to Nick and Martin for being such excellent ambassadors for our industry."

Elaine Skates, Chief Executive of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom said:

“Nick and Martin share a passion for farming and a desire to share their passion, so that more young people are aware of where their food comes from, and are engaged with the natural environment. With a background in farming, rather than education, they have developed the skills needed to share their knowledge and experience with children, and become ambassadors for the farming community. I congratulate them on their success, and wish them well for the future, and continuing to engage young people with our farming community.”

Over five thousand votes were received for this year’s awards in the categories of Best LOtC Advocate, Best LOtC Innovator, Best LOtC Inspiring Educator, and Lifetime Achievement in LOtC.

The other award winners were: Ellie Henderson, LOtC Advocate and Simon Poote, LOtC Innovator.

The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom is a national charity which works with educational establishments and providers of LOtC to ensure more young people access high quality educational experiences.  Find out more about the charity’s work and access free online guidance at www.lotc.org.uk.