Hi I'm Kelly - I work at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust as their Wildbeach Officer. My background is in education: I’ve worked as a teacher and lecturer, but always with a passion for the outdoors and nature. I’m at my happiest when out walking my dog, and as I'm lucky enough to live on the Isle of Wight that normally involves a beach!
I started working for the Wildlife Trust as an Outdoor Learning Tutor in April 2018. In that post I delivered a few Wildbeach sessions and could see how beneficial they were - I was predominantly working with a group of home-educating families and their enthusiasm was infectious.
As I had previously worked in schools, I could see how amazing it would be for children to have the time to play and explore the beach, and how much they would learn by doing it. So when the Wildbeach Officer post become available I applied for the role, and was successful.
Wildbeach, which is part of Down to the Coast, is a National Lottery Heritage Fund project that aims to connect children and young people with their coastal environment. The group that I and my volunteers see most often are home-educating families; they have supported us from the outset, and attend their sessions come rain or shine! We also hold a regular group for under-fives and their families, and run session for children from local schools who have additional needs.
Connecting with nature is vitally important for children, as it plants the seeds for them to go through life wanting to protect and care for the natural world. For children living on an island, it is just as important for them to gain respect, understanding and affinity for the beach as a place to encounter wildlife. Wildbeach created opportunities to do this by applying the Forest School ethos - of taking a holistic approach to learning - in a coastal setting.