Inspiring the next generation of nature champions in Burnley and beyond | Christi Lloyd and Leanne Tough

At Ribble Rivers Trust, we deliver school sessions across the River Ribble catchment, teaching children all about the wonders of rivers.

Burnley pupils getting a closer look at what lives in the River Calder.
Burnley pupils getting a closer look at what lives in the River Calder.

Christi Lloyd

I joined Ribble Rivers Trust (RRT) in March 2020 as Education and Engagement Officer, as part of the Ribble Life Together project.

I have experience of working in Forest Schools and other outdoor learning situations, and strongly believe in the link between connecting with nature and positive well-being.

I am passionate about getting children outside and igniting their enthusiasm for conservation from an early age, which is what I do in my role and I love it!

Seeing a child’s face light up when they tell me about how they saw a trout egg hatch and the fry start swimming, or the excitement at holding a leech for the first time – these little things remind us why environmental education is so important for our children, and confirm that RRT are indeed inspiring the next generation of nature champions.

Leanne Tough

I joined RRT as a GIS and Projects Trainee in November 2020, through the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership.

The PHLP have helped fund traineeships within their own team and within other partner organisations. As a trainee, I have got involved in the wide variety of work RRT do, to increase my skill set.

One aspect I have particularly enjoyed is working with the education team, helping to inspire the next generation of nature enthusiasts.

We are becoming increasingly more aware of the benefits of caring for and feeling connected to nature. If we don’t have people championing it, we could very easily lose most of our wildlife.

Several studies suggest that a feeling of connection with nature can be hugely beneficial for health and wellbeing. For example, many people experience positive changes to their mental well-being with exposure to trees.

With all of this in mind, one of the main goals of our education sessions is to inspire the next generation of nature enthusiasts to protect our amazing wildlife, and to help them be happier and healthier in the process.

Through a partnership called Ribble Life Together, RRT have ran education sessions in schools throughout the River Ribble catchment. Over the last four years, through Ribble Life Together, we have worked with approximately 886 pupils, across seven schools in Burnley.

Activities include identifying freshwater invertebrates from the river, learning about river geomorphology (physical features of a river), finding out how to save water in their homes, planting trees in the local area and understanding why this is important, discovering how to feel a greater connection with nature through mindfulness, and how to stay safe near water, to name a few.

We also run a project called Trout in the Classroom, which runs for the whole of a school’s spring term (January – March/April) and allows pupils to learn all about the life of wild brown trout.

We set up a tank with the optimal conditions for trout eggs and deliver 100 eggs to the school in January. The pupils are then responsible for caring for the eggs and then the young fish, observing them grow and develop over time. Pupils release their trout into their local river before the Easter holidays, often giving them words of advice for life in the big river.

Through fun and engaging sessions and activities, we hope that the wildlife of Burnley will be protected for generations to come.

You can read more about Ribble Life Together here, and see more of what RRT do here

This page will also tell you more about our education sessions: