Well, what an unimaginable experience these four years have been, and I was excited when I was asked to share with you my experiences. But how can I fit all the great things that have happened into a short blog? So, I thought I would try and stay with a theme that has become a deep-rooted journey for me, and that is nature connectedness and the reciprocal relationship with nature needed for all to flourish.
When I came to Avon Wildlife Trust my connection with nature came from spending time hill walking or trail running. My work over the years had been around outdoor education, forest school and conservation management. You could say most of the time I was very much a ‘Human DOing’ in nature.
We were very lucky on this project to have partnered up with Natural Academy who supported us during the design and development of the course through a personal reflective process to help explore more deeply our connection to nature.
During that time, I remember thinking about when I needed some headspace as a young adult, I had a certain spot I would go to sit and simply be. It was along the rugged coastline of North Devon, where the awe and wonder of nature would envelop me. Maybe you can think of a spot in nature where that awe and wonder of nature supports you?
But here is the thing, through my reflective process I was able to recognise this as another, more important connection to nature, one where I was a ‘Human BEing’ not just a ‘Human DOing’ in nature. I think you will agree that our modern-day living has very much become about 'doing', even in nature. You might say we have forgotten to allow ourselves to simply be in nature. But we had a glimpse of the ‘Human BEing’ during lockdown. We began to slow down and notice more; we got a deeper sense of how important that simple moment in nature was for our health.
In other words, having time in nature to reflect, take stock and recharge can be a significant gift to have in our modern lives. It can be the make or break of our health, literally, and it was this that was a big part of what our courses offered people. Past participants told me that during lockdown, they had done just that. The course gave them the space to be, without pressure. To have support time, to reflect in nature. Or that they were able to hear and see nature again as the urban sounds and sites had taken hold. Others told me how they were doing more for nature, joining volunteer groups, planting wildflower and supporting nature anyway they could. I could hear, this needed, reciprocal relationship emerging.
So, what next for me? I am excited to be starting a new enterprise called Wilder Connections which will offer immersive Nature & Wellbeing journeys. I also hope to share my experiences and learning with other organisations and help them develop services that have both nature and people at the heart.
To find out more about the Wellbeing with Nature Project at Avon Wildlife Trust the legacy it has left, visit: avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/wellbeing-with-nature