Generation Green

Generation Green is a 16-month funded project (by DEFRA via National Lottery Heritage Fund) aimed to inspire young people to connect with nature in Northumberland National Park, create and save jobs, and build an aspirant workforce for green recovery.

The Project is split into three ‘Green Pathways’: Green Beacons (a programme which employs and trains educators and youth leaders to be the inspirational figures that can light the way for young people to work in the green economy), Green Shoots (a programme of outreach projects and resources that works predominantly through links to schools, to provide inspirational experiences to all young people and introduce them to National Parks; what they are and how they can benefit from them), and Green Leaders (a training and engagement programme to support young people as leading voices and active participants in the green economy).

Generation Green Logo

Northumberland National Park Young Green Leaders,

Northumberland National Park has developed a youth engagement programme to open up the landscape to young people, to help increase confidence, care, and the desire to connect with the natural world on a longer-term basis. The programme is aimed at young people who wish to get more involved with the work of the National Park. The young people are supported in developing their skills and knowledge, and encouraged to inspire and engage with other young people who may then themselves become the next green leaders.

Throughout the Generation Green project, Northumberland National Park work with the Young Green Leaders to help them understand and value the National Park’s distinctive natural and cultural qualities. The Young Green Leaders have the opportunity to get involved with conserving and enhancing these special qualities, as well as enjoying these special landscapes through involvement with organised events and activities.

Four young people, carrying clipboards, working at Walltown Country Park as part of a Generation Green induction day

Jane Riddell, Assistant Youth Engagement Officer at Northumberland National Park, said: “This is a great opportunity for young people to gain some hands-on experience, especially for those who may be looking for a career in the conservation or environmental sector.

“We currently have 14 active Young Green Leaders and from June to September (2021) they have completed 243 hours worth of volunteering. They have taken part in an induction day, training events, and assisted with delivering activities at public events and with youth/school groups. Two of our Young Green Leaders have either completed or are about to do a placement with the National Park’s Ranger Team.”

Jessica Davison is currently studying Environmental Science at Northumbria University and has been involved with the Project over the last few months. She said: “So far, I have taken part in a day up Simonside with Berwick Youth Group doing a navigation task, and I have been along to The Sill to learn about footpath maintenance along a World Heritage Site, which was very interesting. I have also been helping plant sphagnum moss on Cheviot as part of the Cheviot Restoration Project, which is a very rewarding task (especially when you think of the justifications behind this project).”

Northumberland National Park Discovery Days

Through the Generation Green project, the Northumberland National Park team offer Youth Group Discovery Days where youth groups can participate in various activities in the National Park. The team can also visit the groups at their meeting place and deliver activities in their local area.

Youth groups worked with to date

Berwick Youth Group

Berwick Youth Group visited different locations within the National Park over six weeks in the school summer holidays, taking part in an introduction day, river dipping, navigation session, moth identifying session, a minibeast hunt, geocaching, bushcraft skills and wildlife photography.

A group of children from Berwick Youth Group undertaking a Navigation Walk in Northumberland National Park

One of the Youth Leaders gave some feedback following the sessions: “Thank you so much for all the time, effort, patience and experience you have given to our young people. All very much appreciated by all of us.”

North Tyne Youth

Activities were delivered during North Tyne Youth’s summer residential, which included senses games, geocaching and a scavenger hunt.

Lettering speeling out the letters N Y T made from natural materials as part of a Generation Green session

Useful Vision

Useful Vision is a charity which provides opportunities for blind or partially sighted children around the North East. Six families with visually impaired children visited The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre; the morning session was spent doing ‘Birds are Brill’ activities which included making bird feeders and bird boxes, and the afternoon session was ‘Sensational Senses’.

NE Youth Hadrian’s Wall Challenge Walk

13 youth groups took part in the NE Youth Hadrian’s Wall Challenge Walk which covered the whole length of the Wall. Several groups walked the section of the Wall within Northumberland National Park, and were accompanied by some of the Park’s volunteers. The groups then came back to The Sill for a celebration event.

Education groups worked with to date

Ovingham Middle School Eco Group

The school was taken out on a walk along part of Hadrian’s Wall, as well as taking part in pond dipping and mindfulness activities.

A butterfly created from stones, flowers and grass made by children from the Ovingham Middle school Eco Group as part of a Generation Green session

Kings Priory – Virtual Work Experience

It wasn’t possible to deliver the usual work experience programme to the young people interested in perusing a career in the National Park, so it was instead delivered virtually, and a climate change project was developed. Nine students from Kings Priory School in Tynemouth were given a task: ‘How to make Walltown Country Park carbon neutral’. We were lucky enough to get the group out into the National Park on day one of the programme, where they had a site visit to The Sill and Walltown Country Park, and then in-class study time and a presentation followed.