As a registered charity, promoting education relating to Scotland’s freshwater environments is central to the work of RAFTS and our member trusts. Our project staff and member trusts are involved in a wide range of educational intitatives involving primary and secondary schools, universities, other academic insitutions and the wider public.
It is important that people appreciate the significance of healthy freshwater environments and how they function. Our educational and outreach work demonstrates the importance of healthy freshwater habitats and the ecology which rely on them – from the smallest invertebrates, to our native riparian vegetation and Scotland’s natural range of freshwater fish. Many other species rely on these invertebrates, plants and fish too, so it is important that people understand how our freshwaters sustain a much wider biodiversity, including other species such as native birds and mammals.
Below are some examples of the educational work undertaken by our project staff and member trusts. If you would like to find out more about what is going on in your area, please contact RAFTS, your local trust or look at our events page.
Galloway Fisheries Trust
Galloway Fisheries Trust (GFT) have continued delivering their ‘Salmon in the Classroom’ Project in 2012 within six schools. The schools involved this year include three primary schools that lie within the River Urr catchment – Dalbeattie, Kirkgunzeon and Palnackie Primary. Delivery of the project within these schools is being assisted by the Dalbeattie Angling Association and the Dalbeattie Rotary Club – two organisations keen to carry on supporting the project following the passing away of John Moran, previous Secretary of Dalbeattie Angling Association, who assisted the GFT in their delivery of the project to two schools in 2011. John wished for contributions at his funeral to be put towards ensuring the continued delivery of the project locally and as such, two new coolers have been purchased for use in Dalbeattie schools. The three other schools taking part this year are Borgue, Wigtown and Creetown Primary schools. Once again, we have not had to approach schools individually and we deliver on a first come-first serve basis which over the last few years has produced six or seven schools. This is really the maximum number of schools we can deliver the project to successfully.
In addition to our salmon in the classroom project – we have also become involved in a new project ‘Wonderful World of Water’ – in conjunction with our local SEPA Catchment Management Planning Officer, the Dumfries and Galloway Council Ranger Service and Chris Bowman of BorderLines. The project is a development on the ‘Fishing For Knowledge’ project which began a few years ago, to help introduce primary school children to angling. This new project aims to involve primary school children in a whole host of activities and will be delivered in five sessions over the next two months. The sessions will involve two classroom based elements; firstly, delivered by ourselves – making children aware of all the fish and invertebrate species they will come across in their local river; and secondly, by a Borderlines fishing instructor – who will teach casting techniques following a presentation on the history behind angling and what it contributes to the local economy today. A further three sessions will take place in the field; two of which will be undertaken in freshwater, looking at bugs and beasties and catching fish by electrofishing and angling and a third; ‘watery wildlife’ – which will take place close to the estuary where the children will get to grips with wildlife down near the mud flats, delivered by a council ranger. This project is being trialled with Kirkcowan Primary School this year.
We are now also delivering ‘Tongland Tours’ to local schools – primary and secondary. This two hour tour of Tongland Power Station and Dam introduces classes to the importance of electrical generation by hydro power and the implication this has on wildlife within the river system. The first hour comprises a tour of Tongland Power Station – explaining developments since it’s build back in the mid 1930’s – and a second hour up at Tongland Dam, taking in the importance of water safety, maintaining the scheme and how wildlife use the various parts of the scheme (fish pass etc) and fish recording through the Vaki fish counter.
The Tay Foundation
Educating the next generation about rivers, their inhabitants and the environment is seen as a vital task.
The main educational project run by the Tay Foundation is Salmon in the Classroom (Tayside). This project was initially set up by Scottish Natural Heritage as part of the EU CASS LIFE Project. The Tay Foundation has now taken over the coordination of this project which is still supported by Scottish Natural Heritage.
In addition to the Tay Foundation and Scottish Natural Heritage, other participating organisations include Angus Council (teachers, countryside rangers and supporting school staff), Atholl Countryside Rangers, Esk District Salmon Fishery Board, Loch Lomond and
Trossachs National Park, National Trust for Scotland, Perth & Kinross Council (teachers, Countryside Rangers and supporting school staff) and the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board.
A key part of the programme is bringing fish directly into the class room. From the Tay DSFB hatchery, eyed salmon eggs are provided to each school. These are placed in fish tanks held in chiller cabinets. This enables the pupils to watch daily the hatching of the eggs and development of the baby fish, which are then returned to a local river. The children not only learn about the natural history of the fish, but actually get to look after them.
Subsequently we organise class field trips to the release locations and using electrofishing equipment catch fish (hopefully including some of the ones they released). This enables pupils to identify different fish and their life stages and even to learn how to handle fish safely and properly.
Fish are not the only topics covered during such field trips. Kick samples of aquatic life are taken and the youngsters are invited to count and identify them using simple keys.
This year, eight schools from across Perth & Kinross and Angus benefitted from Salmon in the Classroom. These were: Methven Primary, Letham Primary, Coupar Angus Primary, Killin Primary, Newhill Primary, Breadalbane Primary, Newbigging Primary, Burnside Primary.
Lochaber Fisheries Trust
Salmon in the Classroom
Lochaber Fisheries Trust operates Salmon in the Classroom with ten local primary schools each year, and is supported by SNH.
Each school gets a mini-hatchery and 100 salmon eggs to look after, as well as a presentation on freshwater life and games to play about the salmon lifecycle. When the eggs have hatched and become fry the children get to release them back into the river they came from. We then take the pupils back to the release sites later in the year to electrofish the area, hopefully re-catching some of the released salmon as well as other species for the pupils to see. The project is very popular with pupils, who take great care and pride in raising their eggs. Lochaber Schools last year had an average survival rate of c95%! We present a trophy to the school which keeps most eggs alive.
We are very grateful to Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Government and Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland for part-funding Salmon in the Classroom.
Artwork and Poetry Competitions
Other educational work
The Lochaber Fisheries Trust run practical event days on local rivers to help raise awareness of riparian life. Recent events have included:
- Redd count training days, where the public and river managers could come and receive expert advice on how to identify redds (salmon spawning grounds)
- Electrofishing sessions, looking at the variety of fish life in our rivers and how to identify different species.
- Invertebrate sampling, where the public can actively involved in collecting the bugs and beasts that live in the river; bring wellies!
Small hydro schemes
The Trust have also developed a project with the four high schools in Lochaber looking at the benefits and impacts of small hydro schemes. This is funded by the Robertson Trust, RioTinto Alcan Community Fund (via the Scottish Communities Foundation) and Hydroplan UK Ltd.
The Spey Foundation & Findhorn, Nairn & Lossie Fisheries Trust
The Spey Foundation, in conjunction with the Spey District Salmon Fishery Board, have been running Salmon Go To School programme on the Spey since mid 1990s. This has recently been expanded to include Schools Go To Fish and also incorporate Bugs and Beastie hunts.
The educational programme is now being expanded into the Findhorn, Nairn and Lossie Trust area during 2012. 3 to 5 schools willbe visited, this year Pilmuir Primary (Forres), West End Primary (Elgin), Aberlour House (Gordonston) and Glenlivet Primary Schools will have all completed various parts of the programme.
West End and Glenlivet are participating in the School Go To Fish project and both will complete casting tuition by the end of May. Both schools will then have a chance to go fishing at one of our local fisheries during June, hopefully supported by the River Spey Anglers Association. Highlight of the year so far was Richard Lochhead visiting West End Primary in February.
Clyde River Foundation
Clyde in the Classroom is a hands-on project which uses the life history of the brown/sea trout to promote awareness of river ecology among young people across the River Clyde catchment.
Aimed at P5-P7 classes, the project encourages children to develop a sense of pride in their local enviroment and leaves them with a lasting memory. The children are responsible for the care of brown trout within their classroom and work weekly with Clyde River Foundation scientists. The twin outcomes of developing citizenship and personal confidence are illustrated by their personal and group work. The project has inspired achievement right across the curriculum, from poetry and prose to scientific recording via artwork, songs, plays, film production and presentations to peer and community groups.
Since 2001, the project has involved:
– 14,096 pupils
– 544 classes from 283 different Primary Schools
– OVer half of the 563 Primary Schools located within the River Clyde Catchment
– 13.1% of all Primary Schools in Scotland
For more information on Clyde in the Classroom, please visit: http://clydeintheclassroom.com/
A further major Clyde River Foundation project was Kids and the Kelvin 2011. It gathered together 357 pupils from 14 schools in the Kelvin Valley LEADER area. Pupils learnt how to look after fish in a hatchery and raised trout eggs in the classroom, and these were subsequently released into a local burn.
Pupils revisited the river to watch electrofishing in action and see local fish species up-close. Kick samples were taken in the burn and the samples taken back to the classroom. Pupils identified the many river invertebrates living in the river and learnt how invertebrates are linked to the health of the river ecosystem.
For further information on Kids and the Kelvin, please visit: http://kidsandthekelvin.com/
The Foundation are also committed to teaching at the University of Glasgow where the employees are also honorary members of staff at the University. Foundation staff teach field courses and laboratory sessions in freshwater biology and fisheries science to undergraduate students at the University. Foundation staff also supervise research projects at Honours, Masters and PhD level at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine.
For more information on this, please visit: http://www.clyderiverfoundation.org/education/further-education/
West Sutherland Fisheries Trust
There are 7 primary schools and one secondary school within the Trust area. In each case these are small rural schools with, usually, less than 25 pupils. The exceptions to this are
Lochinver Primary School and Kinlochbervie High School, although in neither case can numbers be considered high. The Trust has a strong working relationship with the 4 northern primary schools, which are keen to utilise our skills, and the High School.
Fishy Tales took place in 2009 and involved the P4 – P7’s from the 7 primaries within the area. The schools were divided into AGS and operated separately, thus Achfary, Durness, Kinlochbervie and Scourie Primaries formed one group and Achiltibuie, Lochinver and Stoer Primaries formed another group. Both groups followed a similar series of events. The event started with a workshop, where a series of different topics were used to introduce the children to salmon and trout. These included a story, a game, art project, scale reading and invertebrate identification, fish dissection and real fish in tanks.
Following the workshop the children were split into age groups and a number of field trips were organised. Again, different groups were established and the children undertook electrofishing, kick sampling, water quality monitoring and a habitat assessment.
Fishy Tales were followed in 2010 by Eely Days, which followed a similar format and again involved the 7 schools. In this case, however, the emphasis was on the eel and sampling was geared around the use of eel traps and the life cycle of the eel.
Only the northern 4 schools were involved in 2011, when Crabby Claws was launched.
This involved the P4 – P7 undertaking a variety of tasks on the beach, including rock pooling, crab fishing, seaweed safari and shell collecting.
Work with the High School has been less intensive. We assisted with the Rural Skills
Course in 2009 and the Laboratory Skills Course in 2010, while 2011 saw our involvement in Fish2Dish, a transition project covering children from P6 – S2. In the latter 2 our involvement was within the laboratory, teaching scale and otolith reading, fish identification and dissection. Rural Skills was more practical, with the pupils joining the Trust during field sampling. In addition we have provided work placement for one of the pupils.
In 2012 we will be involved in a peatland safari and beach exploring day, along the lines of the Crabby Claws, with the P4 and P5 from the Northern 4 schools. This is a 2 day event, one day on each topic.
Scourie Detectives has been organised for the P6 & P7 from the 7 schools in June. This will be one day, centred on Scourie beach and will involve rockpool and strandline investigations as well as Geology walks. It is used as another opportunity for the children to mix with others of their own age.