Crieff High School Skills Group End of Year!

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It has come to the end of the year for the Crieff High School Skills Group.

They have learned a huge amount over the year and have came on hugely in their development.

From Himalayan Balsam and Bracken Bashing, to path maintenance and drainage(seen above) they have covered a huge amount of activities in their time.

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Here is how they feel the year has went:

“Before starting to go out with Alan, the Greenspace Ranger, we didn’t really take part in any physical activity in school.

In the beginning it was pretty hard work, especially learning about all the different tools but it has got easier and more enjoyable as the term went on.”

Jay said, “I really enjoy the freedom of going out. My favourite activity is bracken bashing because you get to use a slasher and you can really see the difference.”

James said,” I don’t enjoy school so going out is a great escape. My favourite thing to do is digging the ditches for the drainage because it’s fun and it’s great to see the water flowing once it’s clear.”

“We have learnt lots of skills throughout the time, from cleaning the tools correctly to make sure they fit to use, to recognising non-native species and weeds.

It is great to visit different places around Crieff too, we go to Lady Mary’s Walk, MacRosty Park and up the Knock so get to see different landscapes.”

The contribution of the group to their community has been invaluable and we have been really impressed with their progression over the year. We hope to maintain the group going in to the next school year and support more young people to learn new skills and developing the young workforce of the future.

 

 

Crieff High John Muir Award

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Knock of Crieff

Crieff High were recently out with Alan and Jeannie  participating in Conservation activities to achieve their John Muir Discovery award. Here is them describing their award.

12 young people from S4 Crieff High School took part in the John Muir Award and we did a variety of activates like team building, rock climbing and conservation work.

They provided the following statement to Alan for use on this Blog.

“On the first day we went up the Knock to complete team building exercises like walking with ski’s and bat and moth.

We also went orienteering up and around the knock. We then went to the bush craft area and had a campfire in the fire pit, we ate marshmallows and sausages.

On the Wednesday we went climbing and abseiling at Bennybeg which was very fun but it started to rain halfway through the day which made it very hard to abseil on the slippery rocks.

Thursday we went to Loch Monzievaird. We walked all the way around the Loch looking at different types of stuff like different types of trees and trees that beavers chewed on. We also looked at nature’s pallet.

On Friday we did Conservation work on the Knock and we took out beach trees from the ground because it is not a native tree and when it grows it will block out the sun and the native plants will not grow, we did the conservation in different places up the Knock.”

Year of Young People with Morrisons Academy!

We had some fantastic assistance from 50 S6 pupils  from Morrison’s Academy in Crieff recently. Originally the group were to be split across 4 sites including Lady Mary’s, MacRosty Park, The Knock and James Square with Crieff in Leaf.

Storm Hector, however, had other ideas! Due to the wind we had to curtail the day slightly and move everyone to MacRosty Park and James Square. The advantage of this was the group was able to go and tidy up and branches blown off trees from the storm within the park quickly.

The group focused on three separate areas within the park:

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Group one weeding up at the Comrie Road

Group 1 was helping to weed the border of the park adjacent to Comrie Road. They worked hard and got over half of it completed.

Group 2 were working on the flower beds down the steps to the bottom of the park and also the hard surfaces of the steps as well. Which look fantastic now after all their hard work.

Group 3 were finishing off some of the lade management that was required. They completed that task and hopefully that will keep the lade flowing without fault for the foreseeable future!

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The Lade after some work was carried out.

Group 4 were in James Square supporting Crieff in Leaf to manage some of the hard surfaces removing the weeds from there and also from the beds.

All of these activities had a huge benefit to the community and keep our greenspaces looking amazing.

A special thanks go out to the S6 pupils for their efforts in supporting their local community.

 

 

 

Morrison’s Academy Primary School JASS award in MacRosty Park

The Primary school pupils of Morrison’s Academy have been in the park recently. They have been completing their JASS volunteer award.

Junior Award Scheme for Schools (JASS) is a progressive learning programme for young people which has been designed to recognise wider achievement. A key aim has been to meet the challenges of the transition from primary to secondary but in practice it can be used at either level as well as with wider age groups in additional support need settings. The objectives of the JASS programme are aligned with the wider learning objectives of the Curriculum for Excellence, The Outdoor Challenge, and the National Curriculum, making it easy to run alongside and incorporate existing curricular activities.

JASS develops the whole individual by offering recognition in four key areas – regular physical activity (Get Active, Stay Active), exploring a personal interest (My Interests), working for the good of the community or the environment (Me and My World) and completing an outdoor activity or challenge (Adventure) and is designed so that participants move through the levels with increasing commitment, learning, and challenge.

They have been completing the Me and My World section of the award with the Perth and Kinross Ranger Service.

So far we have been weeding around the bandstand and also weeding some of the steps in MacRosty. With fantastic results as seen below (I must get better at getting before photos!).

They are assisting the community and supporting the environment while carrying out these tasks with us.

We have a few weeks together still left and we will be carrying out a range of activities such as weeding flower beds and litter picking; while also learning about the natural environment and it’s importance.

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Crieff High School Group January Round up

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Group doing drainage at Lady Mary’s

The school group have been busy since the start of the year.

The winter weather looked like it was going to snow the group off but the pupils were given the option and decided they would still like to go out! So we headed to the park to carry out some tool maintenance. The group have been learning about all the different tools and how to maintain them,  they are now so skilled they tell me how its maintained! The weather did progressively get worse so we did curtail the task as pupils started to get a little blue!

Fortunately the following week the weather was a little better and we headed down to Lady Mary’s Walk and the group worked really hard on the

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Group working on the broom up the Knock

drainage (just in time for all the snow melt and rain that we had!). They really enjoyed this task and even asked if they can do it again which is really positive. Ensuring the drains are clear prevent the risk of the paths flooding so its important that we keep them flowing.

Finally this week the group were up the knock carrying out some of the broom management as part of the forest management plan. We were using tree poppers which are a useful tool that remove trees and shrubs from the roots. This is a task the group had done before so they are well versed in it and put in a great effort to finish off the section that we hard started before. Removing the broom is important as it acts like an invasive, takes over and out-competes other vegetation such as trees.

The group are going to be looking at some more drainage work, some path maintenance work and some willow weaving soon!

Sawing Saplings with the School

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Pupil Removing one of the saplings

Every Tuesday a group come out from Crieff High School to help manage the woodland and park sites around the town. Whilst the group find the school environment a struggle they thrive in practical and outdoor activities. They are learning and developing skills that hopefully will assist them in getting in to training  and eventually a career in the future.

Recently the group were up the Knock carrying out some heathland management.  Using  loppers and saws the group were cutting any saplings or scrub that was developing within the heathland.

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Scleroderma citrinum Pers. – Common Earthball Found while working

 

The reason that we remove the saplings is because if we didn’t we would lose the heathland as it would turn in to woodland eventually. Heathland is a Biodiveristy Action plan priority habitat and supports a wide range of wildlife such as the earth ball seen in the picture to the left that the group discovered while carrying out the task.

 

By carrying out the brilliant work that the group do, they are learning about different habitats, the importance of those habitats and why sometimes we need to prevent natural succession to protect them  and also about the wildlife within those habitats. They are also assisting Community Greenspace achieve objectives and helping to keep the sites maintained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Family Fun Days

A partnership between Community Greenspace, Live Active, Adult and Family Learning and Perth and Kinross Culture – Library services has seen the planning and delivery of two Family Fun Days held at Breadalbane Community Campus.

Funding was established by the Adult and Family worker Jinty Smart, lead to lunches and refreshments being supplied by Tayside Contracts. The days were split into hour slots and all partners provided their time and services for free, which enabled the Fun Days to be accessible for all.

The first day had 21 people booked on with a total of 45 (all ages) participating. The second ended up being full with (49 bookings) with over a week to go!

Perth High School Litter Pick

IMG_7008IMG_7007S4 pupils from Perth High School recently spent the morning tidying up the South Inch Park and Moncrieff Island in Perth. Pupils have been working towards their Duke of Edinburgh and John Muir Awards.  Walking through many greenspaces helped give the pupils an understanding on how litter affects our wildlife and greenspaces. One area which was particularly messy included Moncrieff Island. This popular spot was tidied up with pupils collecting  bottles, crisp packets and even left over camping gear.  A total of 12 bags of rubbish were collected by pupils and a positive experience was had by all.

Salmon in Our Classroom

by Primary 7 at St Madoes Primary School

On Tuesday the 2nd February, our salmon eggs arrived in the classroom. We had been given the tank the day before along with a presentation detailing how to care for our salmon eggs and an explanation of the life cycle of the Atlantic salmon.  Our eggs were transported by Mr Montgomery who was a Perth and Kinross Countryside Ranger; he was the expert who was guiding us through this wonderful process. Moreover he helped us to look after and care for our salmon eggs by phoning the school every single day to check our water temperature readings and to see if we had any problems. He was really enthusiastic about the project and he even came to fix the leak in the tank!  We really enjoyed having Mr Montgomery helping us as he was very friendly which made the project more enjoyable.

We had a month with our salmon in our classroom, where we had to check the water temperature 4 times a day as well as looking for mortalities. The temperature needed to remain under 10°C preferably about 7°C. We saw the salmon eyed eggs transform into alevins (these are the newly hatched salmon with yolk sacks) during this time.

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Sadly we had to release our alevins into Annaty Burn because their yolk sacks were running out of food. The alevins were turning into fry and needed to have a source of small water organisms or insects to feed on. We carried out fascinating field tests in order to make sure that the water was safe for the alevins to be released in to.  The field tests involved testing the PH level of the water, the speed of the water flow, the depth of the water where we would release our alevins, the temperature of the water and the water purity.  Mr Montgomery and Mrs Whyte (also a Perth and Kinross Countryside Ranger) led us in our field tests.

We also had a trip to the Tay Salmon Hatchery at Almondbank. There we were introduced to different members of staff who explained what their jobs involved in great depth.  Steve, the Hatchery manager, took us into a small cold room that contained 136 trays.  Each tray contained 5 000 salmon eggs or alevins that were checked daily for mortalities.  Steve also cared for grilse salmon that were kept in large tanks that looked like big round baths.  Steve had to train the wild salmon to eat in fresh water by hand feeding them with individual prawns on a large stick before moving them on to a special mix that he created and made daily.  We were fortunate enough to witness a salmon eating a prawn a sight that most people will never see.

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Craig, a bailiff, regularly patrolled the River Tay and its tributaries to make sure that anglers had the correct permits to fish there. He would also go around the rivers at night searching for poachers.  Craig showed us equipment that poachers used to catch salmon as well as the specialist equipment that he used to catch them red handed.  This consisted of a camouflaged suit, a variety of cameras, night vision binoculars and scopes.  He told us that he works closely with the local police and has the power to arrest poachers.  We think that it is pretty cool!

Mike, a marine biologist specialising in fish, showed us fry and smolt that had been caught in the River Almond that morning. He presented us with a ‘stunning’ device that looked like a huge and heavy metal detector which he explained was used to electro-fish.  This is where an electrical current is pulsed through the water for a few seconds and any fish in this area are temporarily stunned making them easy to catch with a net (This does not harm the fish).

Lastly we met Dr David Summers, the fisheries director, who talked us through a video of how they caught and transported the wild salmon from a variety of Highland Perthshire rivers back to the Almondbank hatchery. This was a very hard and laborious process as it was in a very cold and isolated environment.  He also discussed how they restock the tributaries of the River Tay with salmon eggs and alevins as well as the process involved in this.

The salmon project has been a wonderful experience and one that we would recommend to all primary school classes to take part in.

Salmon in the Classroom

Once again, the coming of March highlights our Salmon in the Classroom project where school-children from across Perth & Kinross are given the responsibility of looking after salmon eggs in their classrooms.

It’s great news once again for the ‘alevins’, as the newly-hatched salmon are called, as over 95% have successfully hatched this year.  Under the supervision of the Tay Salmon Fisheries Board the salmon will soon be released into burns where they will be monitored over the coming months.

Young Salmon

There are roughly 12 schools involved in this project each year, each of whom are asked to keep a diary of their project which is then entered into a competition with a £200 prize. Last year’s prize was split between Moncrieffe and Kirkmichael Primary Schools as it was declared a draw.

The winning school will be the one which produces a diary with lots of content and ideas as well as general facts about what they have learned about the Salmon lifecycle. The schools in the past have submitted models of salmon, poems and songs as part of their entry.

Among the schools involved this year are Stanley, St Madoes, and Rattray Primary Schools. Is your school involved?

You can find out more about this project in last year’s story here and more about the many conservation projects which the Tay Salmon Fisheries Board carry out here

www.pkc.gov.uk/article/2551/Biodiversity-Projects (ongoing Greenspace Rangers projects)

The Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board is the statutory body empowered to protect and improve the salmon fisheries in the Tay district.  http://www.tdsfb.org/index.html

The Tay Foundation is a Charitable Trust helping the River Tay and its tributaries, fish and environment. www.tayfoundation.org/