Skills Development

Skills Development

Paul Harris/2020VISION


Read about the amazing projects we have done with young people in order to develop their skills and experience for employment in a greener economy.

Wild skills in the community

I think it's perfect! I've enjoyed every session and I honestly don't think anything needs to change. I love the people there, I love the activities we do and I look forward to everything session we do!

Over the past three years Avon Wildlife Trust has been working in Grove Park alongside Friends of Grove Park with support from North Somerset Council. Over 100 young people have attended the sessions where they have helped improve the area for wildlife by building planters, planting native wildflowers, seed collecting and creating bug hotels.


One young person, Ethan, completed the Wild Skills course gaining six AQA accreditations over the course. He wanted to join the programme to boost his confidence around new people and increase his skills in conservation. When he first started, he was very shy and found it hard to talk or join in with group activities; now he can talk with the best of them!

“I have boosted my confidence and have felt what it is like to work outdoors. I have gained experience and confidence when meeting new people. We also help local places as well as helping me too. There is nothing I dislike about it.”

It has been rewarding to see him grow and build up these interpersonal skills. This demonstrates how important this work can be to young people, enabling them to build and develop at their own rate with the help of nature.

Because of this course I've been more confident in agreeing my own ideas and love being connected to people who love nature like me.
Wild Skills course participant
Because of this course I have tried to reduce my impact on the environment by reducing my use of harmful products to our wildlife.
Wild Skills course participant

Impact Mentoring Projects

This project supported a group of young people to take part in a nature-based practical project, through provider "Impact Mentoring". Located at  our Grow Wilder site the activities contributed to the site's management plan, supported our work and was a new opportunity for the young people.

One of the services Impact Mentoring offers is a 1-1 mentoring service for young people. Using their knowledge of the individuals they support, Impact mentoring were able to refer a group of interested individuals (mainly with behavioural issues/not coping with traditional learning environments) who they viewed would benefit from this style of session.  Young people would get value from the new environment, build confidence, learn new skills etc. in addition to complimenting their usual mentoring sessions.  

We worked with two Impact Mentoring groups during 2017, the pilot project which took place in summer built a rustic gate, including installing gate posts for a wildlife pond, which completed/joined up with the perimeter fence and make the pond safe. The young people didn’t know each other prior to the sessions and quickly a friendly rapport was established within the group.  Skills were shared and mentors were able to lend support, sharing their own practical knowledge, encouragement and add positive suggestions where appropriate.  Appreciation and connection to spending time outside was also improved throughout the sessions.

Based on the positive feedback from the young people and Impact Mentoring staff a series of follow on sessions (during winter 2017) was organised for another group of young people.

The second project was to design and build a freestanding insect habitat for Grow Wilder. Feedback from both young people and mentors from the initial pond gate building project was for more practical projects which had purpose, as many of the young people engaged best/were able to relate to these activities rather than one off sessions.  It was decided the group would make an insect hotel to provide habitat for native solitary insects rather than the more commonly known pollinators such as honey/bumblebees bees.

Using both materials provided and gathered from the site the group worked together using hand tools and built a creative, attractive and robust insect habitat.  During the last session (almost as if planned!) the group finished the project with enough time to spare to toast marshmallows on a small contained fire and share highlights/lowlights from the sessions.

“I enjoyed the project is was a lot better and more interesting than I expected and it feels really good to help make a home for animals who might not have one. My favourite bit was doing the sawing and working with a hammer.”

Prince’s Trust – “Get Started in Conservation” Course

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Our Bright Future team had to come up with new ways of engaging young people whilst we were all locked down in our homes. Teaming up with the Prince’s Trust, we ran a week long online course called ‘Get started in Conservation’ for 15 young people hoping to start careers in the environmental sector. Despite being online, each day the students explored their local green space improving their identification skills, learning how to do a habitat survey, designing behaviour change campaigns  and learning more about careers.

I loved being surrounded by like minded people and gained more appreciation for nature and how much good it does to my mental health.
Magda, course participant
Prince's Trust
I have absolutely loved it I think it has been brilliant. I don't know how it could be improved!
Madeline, course participant

With the added grief, stress and anxiety from coronavirus, we also focused on how nature can boost our mental health. After the success of the first course and as lockdown restrictions ease, we will be running another week of the course again with a new group of young people with some more face to face delivery!  

Read the full blog here


“I would 100% recommend this course for anyone who wants to work in conservation but doesn't know the first steps to take”.
Lily, course participant
I've seen a vast improvement in my mental health this week.
Sophia, course participant

Tomorrow’s People

In the early days of Our Bright Future when we were charmingly called NEst (Natural Estates) we linked up with Tomorrow’s People. They offered a 12 week employability and life skills programme and we offered a day a week of nature based team building and practical project work. The groups were young people who were aiming to upskill ready for work as they hadn’t found mainstream education suited to them.

We worked with several groups on a range of projects from clearing a local community garden and creating seating and signage, building a massive bug hotel, carving and installing a bench in a local park and learning coppicing and willow weaving at Folly Farm. We also led a nature walk through the city which was a revelation to each group, following the river as it runs under the city was an engaging detour and opportunity to look again at the city they know so well.


Young Volunteers

The Young Volunteering programme was set up in 2018 as a follow on offer for students who completed their work experience with Avon Wildlife Trust. It was an instant hit with young people, joining in with practical conservation at Grow Wilder and nature reserves across the region.

In a session the volunteers learn safe tool use, improve their identification skills, carry out surveys, learn land management skills, create habitats, build their confidence and meet other like minded young people!

Over the years, the programme has developed and grown. We now run regular volunteer sessions throughout the school holidays, weekends, evenings and online talks and training. It has been great to see young people grow over the course of the Our Bright Future project. We’ve had volunteers who finished their work experience with us, continued to volunteer and now work within the environmental sector. The success of our regular young volunteer programme and meeting inspiring, engaged young environmentalist also gave us the idea of started our own Youth Forum which has been another success of the project!     

I first got involved with Our Bright Future on a week of work experience with Avon wildlife trust. I chose this because I'm generally passionate about wildlife and the environment and in particular I would like to pursue a career in ecology. Our Bright Future has allowed me to continue volunteering with AWT at Feed Bristol, as part of the Wild City Action Team and even go to the Communicate+ environmental conference.
Through volunteering I have learnt so much more about conservation and met some amazing people. It's wonderful to see so many projects going on and I now feel much more positive about the future and like I am able to make a difference
Sophie Carpenter- young volunteer

Help us continue to develop the skills and experience of young people


Explore our other areas of work with young people over the last five years