The Countryside Education Trust (CET) is a registered charity established in 1975 devoted to countryside education in all its varied forms. Based in Hampshire, the CET’s overall aim is to promote and operate courses, activities and facilities, which enable children and adults to learn about, understand and care for the countryside drawing on the diverse resources of the New Forest and the Beaulieu Estate. Over the years the Trust has grown in stature and scope to become an organisation running a residential centre, a field studies centre, a farm and a community programme.
At the residential Out of Town Centre, children stay for a whole week and for many, it will be a life changing experience ñ working on the farm and garden, milking goats, collecting eggs, feeding chickens, collecting food waste for the compost bins, planting and harvesting vegetables and more. ‘ Miss, Miss, the goat’s laid an egg!’ This was the excited claim from a child visiting the farm and seeing a chicken’s egg in the goat pen. Children find it an eye opening experience learning about animal life cycles and where their food comes from.
Such was the demand, a monthly follow-up club Big Owls’ was created for 4 ñ 6 year olds with families. In the words of CET Community Officer Vivien Drake: ‘Running these Little Owls and Big Owls Clubs has been a great experience. I passionately believe in getting young children outdoors experiencing the natural world. The learning opportunities are immense and of course we have fun!’
Parent Emily Cain explains ‘ I’ve been coming to Little Owls and Big Owls with my son for the last five years. What I love is the way that the children gain an understanding of nature ñ they just absorb it by being there. It’s real life, outdoors, away from computers. I really love the listening activities where we are silent for 30 seconds just tuning in to the sounds around us!’
Contact: Vivien Drake, Countryside and Community Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org