We enable young people to access and connect with the natural world, empowering a proactive planet-protecting community.
by Ocean Explorer Academy with Plastic Free North Devon in Braunton, Devon, United Kingdom
We were first approached by a local North Devon school asking us to help students access outdoor learning. Our programme started connecting young people with our natural world, many of whom hadn't spent much time in nature before.
We have grown the programme and give our young people a holistic deep-dive into nature and its protection - we measure egg-cases at the beach, survey insect species, learn about we can all enjoy the dune systems responsibly, see how organic farming is changing the landscape for the better, delve into rock pools, explore woodland fungi and get involved in practical conservation.
Our young people get to meet a variety of local conservation experts, learn about how they got into their conservation roles and we open up a pathway for our participants to get involved in conservation volunteering and hopefully a career too, eventually!
We take families and friends along for the ride too, with regular online webinars and free family-inclusive sessions at weekends and in school holidays, with free transport.
The funds we raise will pay for delivery of sessions and much-wanted broadening of the programme's content and reach. We want to be able to engage more young people, empowering a connected community of positive change-makers.
With our extended target, we would like to further develop our programme to include additional sessions for those who wanting to dive deeper into the natural world and its conservation. We are creating a meaningful, lasting legacy and cohort of planet-saving superheroes.
The slightly more formal version:
Plastic Free North Devon (PFND), is a small and mighty grassroots registered charity that aims to inspire people to drastically reduce their consumption of tackle the single-use plastic crisis and take positive action to protect our planet. We aim to connect people with their natural surroundings through conversations, education and events. We want to see radical transformation towards a healthier and more informed relationship with the environment. We play key roles in collaborative partnerships, including the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere, North Devon National Landscape and the North Devon World Surfing Reserve.
The Ocean Explorer programme empowers an active cohort of engaged young people working for the benefit of nature, the community, and the planet. We achieve this through distributed schemes of work and delivering an acclaimed, immersive outdoor learning education programme that enables young people to learn, engage and take action!
WHY WE DO IT
In 2020, neighbourhoods in Ilfracombe and Barnstaple were rated among the 10% most deprived in England and are in the highest 5% of economically exposed towns, due to the fragility and seasonality of their local coastal economies
As students returned to school after a very socially and academically disrupted few years and schools struggle to close the attainment gap, more young people than ever exhibit a need for mental health and wellbeing support, learning time in nature and positive, constructive connection with their peers
Young people are bombarded with around 3,000 adverts a day. Many of our programme participants are more conversant with their local shops than the world-renowned beaches, planet-protecting sand dunes and wondrous woodlands only minutes from their homes
Deep, meaningful environmental encounters help lay the foundations for increased environmental stewardship, conscious thought and action on environmental issues
WHAT WE DO
In addition to providing schools with KS2-4 schemes of work that educate on environmental issues through core curriculum subjects, we deliver vibrant, dynamic outdoor learning sessions to KS3 young people that stimulate students to learn, engage and take action! We reconnect them to nature and each other in an immersive, empowering way, facilitating a connected community of planet-saving superheroes. We provide them with a clear pathway into conservation-based mindsets, priorities and careers.
HOW WE DO IT
Ignite a passion for nature, so that young people will act to protect what they now know and love
Introduce young people to the main environmental issues and empower them to create positive behaviour change themselves, in their families and local communities
Expose young people to local experts, their career paths and provide specific volunteering opportunities to provide participants with a pathway into nature conservation
Deliver assemblies, workshops in schools and end of year day trips to literally immerse participants in the marine world!
Support school ‘eco clubs’ and nurture an inter-school eco club relationship through an ‘Enviro-fest’ celebration, where groups help and mentor each other
Deliver regular online inspirational webinars and ‘bring your family’ activity sessions
OUR IMPACT AND SUCCESS
We closely monitor the programme’s success using start and end participant surveys as well as ongoing anecdotal evidence and feedback from staff and young people. We consider the uptake of volunteering opportunities and joining school eco clubs to be an indicator that our work is making a meaningful, positive difference. From this monitoring, we have seen:
A love of nature and dedication to take action to protect it
Improved participant mental wellbeing, social confidence and academic outcomes
Raised nature-based career awareness and aspirations – there is a significant upward shift from start to end surveys for desire to work in nature, knowledge about local opportunities to get experience and feeling that they have a pathway to getting experience working in nature
Accelerated action on environmental issues within local schools and communities
“This has inspired me so much, I love the trips we do. I really want to be a marine biologist, now I know more about what I can do to make that happen.” - Ocean Explorer Academy participant
Research shows that family values and norms shape young people’s environmental behaviours over their lifespan, so we understand the importance of not only developing our young-people-focused programme, but growing and broadening the Ocean Explorer community to include their families too.
Transport is a significant barrier to participation for students, particularly considering the poor public transport in North Devon. We have been gifted a minibus for a year and will use that to remove the financial barriers to participants and their families joining the programme and onward legacy opportunities.
This project offers rewards in return for your donation.