Hundreds of children take part in moorland education programme

This year’s Estates that Educate programme is larger than ever before with nearly 800 children taking part in hands-on demonstrations of rural conservation and land management skills across Scotland.

By Dawn Renton
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 7:57 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 7:57 am
Students are able to try out fishing, how to set a fishing rod up and have a go at casting. (Pic:Kirk Norbury)
Students are able to try out fishing, how to set a fishing rod up and have a go at casting. (Pic:Kirk Norbury)

Primary and secondary school pupils in the Angus Glens, Grampian, Southern Uplands, Tayside, Strathdearn and Speyside will benefit from five consecutive weeks of moorland education sessions in a bid to tackle rural depopulation and fill the rural skills gap.

The students will experience first-hand practical demonstrations of the daily workings of a Scottish estate covering everything from upland sheep farming to river conservation, wading birds, working ponies, renewable energy, to deer management and game cookery.

Estates taking part in the programme include Dunecht, Dalhousie, Glenogil, Gannochy, Lochan and Logiealmond.

Demonstrations of working ponies is included in the sessions (Pic:Kirk Norbury)

Lianne MacLennan, national coordinator of Scotland’s regional moorland groups, says the activities are designed in partnership with schools to engage the pupils but are underpinned by a serious aim.

She said: “The Estates That Educate programme stemmed from the need to develop pathways to rural work. In many areas of Scotland young people leaving school feel they need to move to Edinburgh or Glasgow for work, and this is a real threat to rural Scotland.

"We want to ensure that rural communities survive and reverse the trend of rural depopulation.

"There are jobs in rural areas but young people often aren’t aware of them. This is a programme of hands-on taster sessions that children wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to experience.”

The Estates that Educate programme gives pupils first-hand experience of the daily workings of a Scottish estate. (Pic: Kirk Norbury)

Lianne continued: “There has never been a more important time to engage with young people and let them know how they can get involved in land management and conservation to protect the species and the countryside that we love.

“We also have the opportunity to educate young people about the venison and game that is on their doorstep as many of them have never tried game before visiting an estate.

"The chance to cook and taste game – and even see venison butchery – is an unusual element of the programme and a first for many of them.”