The final school field trip of MulkearLIFE’s Environmental Education Programme, in the 2009 / 2010 academic year, was completed in glorious sunshine on Thursday 20th May 2010. As part of this Environmental Education Programme 20 local schools (15 primary and 5 post-primary) were visited from January to March 2010. Illustrated presentations, a quiz game and prize giving formed part of the classroom engagement. However it was the half day field trips which proved to be the hightlight for most schools. The field trips to 4 different designated site on the Mulkear, Newport, Bilboa or Dead rivers were conducted in April and May 2010. All bar 1 or 2 were conducted in near perfect sunny weather.
Using a range of works sheets, bug dials, nets, electro-fishing equipment, work sheets and identification kits the field trips examined many of the aspects discussed in the classroom engagement. The field trips were designed to be a student led voyage of discovery where the staff of MulkearLIFE and the Shannon Fisheries Board played a facilitating role. The field trips focused on the work of MulkearLIFE and through group work explored the major themes of river restoration work, removal of alien invaders, general river / river bank biodiversity, indicators of otter life along the river, life cycles of Atlantic salmon and sea lamprey, other fish species and invertebrates and water quality indicators. An upstream river walk also formed part of the field trip to discuss how we can enjoy the river and the wider catchment while lessening our impact by following the seven steps of Leave No Trace.
The field trips were an over-whelming success with great thanks due to the staff of the various schools, their preparation work and most importantly the fantastic young researchers at both primary and secondary level. The support of the fisheries staff of the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board is also gratefully acknowledged. Given the sheer numbers of school children involved, the field trips would not have happened, without the help of the Fisheries Officers of the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board.
In total 20 schools took part in the MulkearLIFE Schools Environmental Education Programme with some 560 students and teachers benefiting from the experience. The programme is due to kick off again for the 2010 / 2011 academic year in September 2010 when an additional batch of schools within the Mulkear catchment will be included. If you wish for your school to be included please get in touch with MulkearLIFE as soon as possible.