Apprenticeships in Plymouth help young people connect with nature

A photo of Tom
Image caption,Tom Wise is an apprentice with the Natural Grid Project

An apprenticeship scheme in Devon is aiming to help more young people reconnect with nature.

Part of the initiative runs out of Poole Farm in Plymouth, a city council-run farm near Leigham.

Young people have the opportunity to work with animals, build and repair items and work on conservation in the city.

Apprentice Tom Wise said he had “always had a strong connection with nature” and his jobs so far had been “varied”.

Mr Wise, 24, has been doing his apprenticeship as part of Plymouth’s Natural Grid Project, which aims to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss across the city.

He said: “I’ve always loved it [nature].

“We’re trying to improve our local nature reserve, so we can be doing path clearing, we can be repairing fencing, it can differ from day to day.”

A photo of Grace
Image caption,Grace Edmunds-Jones finished her apprenticeship in December

Grace Edmunds-Jones took on a landscape technician apprenticeship after doing a film-making degree.

She said she wanted to get into the green industry, and passed her apprenticeship in December after nearly three years of work.

Ms Edmunds-Jones said: “We learnt all about how to do landscape design. One of the projects I did was the garden at Poole Farm.

“One of my favourite things to do is leading groups of children and teaching them about nature, diversity and different habitats, and getting to see them get hands on with nature in this space is amazing.”

‘Perfect’ course

Danielle Mudge, 18, is currently a countryside worker apprentice.

She is 11 months into her two-year course and said she “always knew” she wanted to do something like this.

She said: “I was quite outdoorsy as a kid, always going out and getting covered in mud.

“I started studying different things when I got to my A-levels and very quickly decided that I hated it and started looking for a job. This came up and it was just perfect.

“I’ve always wanted to work with animals or have animals around me, I just adore them.”

a photo of the apprentices
Image caption,Apprentices build, plant and conserve as part of the scheme

Sally Cresswell, Plymouth City Council cabinet member for education, skills and apprenticeships, said: “What’s really important is that our green investment is vital as far as Plymouth is concerned.

“And our other key aspect that we’re working on very much is about our apprenticeship skills and opportunities for young people.

“This ticks all the boxes in terms of giving opportunities to young people and those important aspects of our green economy.”

Poole Farm owner Jerry Griffiths said there had been about 15 apprentices over the past few years.

He said he recognised “the value of green and blue space, and bringing youngsters through and teaching them the skills that may lead them into a career in the green sector”.

He said they were given a lot of “hands-on tasks”, such as building and planting “to lead them to a green career”.

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