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Shrewsbury, Shropshire, United Kingdom
FSC Preston Montford has been an outdoor classroom since 1957 and is a Field Studies Council centre. We deliver curriculum related outdoor education by the experts; from pre-school to Masters level; for infants, school students, undergraduates and enquiring adults with an interest in the natural world. Courses for schools and individuals. A venue for others to use; with bed space for 130, catering facilities and 7 fully equipped teaching and meeting spaces.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Going batty at FSC Preston Montford

After attending a four day bat identification course at FSC Preston Montford, during which the class identified a Pipistrelle roost on site, I offered to monitor the roost for the purposes of the National Bat Monitoring Programme run by the Bat Conservation Trust.

Bat detector, taken by Charlotte Timerick
Thus on the second weekend in June, I sat outside the roost and settled down to begin counting bats. I was accompanied by Charlotte Timerick, a Tutor at FSC Preston Montford, and Lisa Worledge, the leader of the course. Ten minutes after sunset, our first bat emerged; a lone Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) dropped out of the building and flew off without producing a call. Five minutes later, a second bat followed the first, and that was the last of them. Lisa explained that the small number of bats meant that it was probably lone males or non-breeding females in the roost at this time.

Our second visit took place two weekends later. This time we had lost Lisa but gained two new volunteers, therefore enabling us to spread out and cover more possible exit points to the roost. After a quick search of window ledges, which revealed evidence of bat droppings, we settled down facing two sections of the building. Five minutes after sunset, our first bat emerged from close to the previously identified exit point. This was the only bat to emerge from this side of the building. Five minutes later, two Pipistrelles emerged together from the second section of the building, proving that our identification of other exit points had been successful. These were the last bats to emerge from this roost. 

We will return again next year, to see whether the use of the roost remains limited to lone individuals or becomes much busier.

By Sam Devine-Turner

National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP)

Bat numbers in the UK have declined dramatically over the last century. The NBMP aims to monitor the numbers of bats and help work towards establishing a stable population. To find out how you can participate in the programme or to find out more about these amazing flying mammals, please click on the following link: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/nbmp.html.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Wildlife enthusiast Ellie shares her Growing Confidence Project experiences

As the Growing Confidence project gathers momentum more and more young people are getting involved and enjoying the diverse range of opportunities which are being offered.  Wildlife enthusiast and photographer Ellie Forrester has been coming along on our Growing Confidence project day events at FSC Preston Montford to build her knowledge and skills before she starts a degree in wildlife conservation and ecology this autumn.

Ellie took the opportunity to share her enthusiasm and her experiences in an article which has been published in the latest edition of New Nature magazine. You can read the full article here http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/15ec9b_2c848d655ae84435a58675de85cb0d52.pdf

 About the Growing Confidence Project
Growing Confidence (GC) is a five year project giving young people the opportunity to discover more about wildlife and wild places and have fun learning skills in their local environment. FSC Preston Montford is working together with Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Fordhall Community Land Initiative and The Plunkett Foundation to offer a wide range of inspiring opportunities for young people aged 11-25.

This summer we have a programme of residentials for 16-24 year olds as part of the Growing Confidence Project you can find out more at www.field-studies-council.org/gc

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fundraising Run for FSC Kids Fund

Education team members Angela, Kirsty and Iain are raising much needed funds for the FSC Kids Fund by running 10K on 11th June at Coed Llandegla. They hope to raise £540 to give 30 young people the opportunity to visit FSC Preston Montford for a transformative learning experience. 

FSC Kids Fund provides financial support for groups of disadvantaged young people who would like to visit one of our centres for an FSC experience. Past Kids Fund beneficiaries are young people in foster care, those who are not in mainstream education, young people who are living a women’s refuge and children from primary schools who have little or no access to green space let alone the countryside. For more information: http://www.field-studies-council.org/about/fsc-kids-fund.aspx

15 kids from Westminster School came on a 4 night residential course at FSC Preston Montford in 2016 and had an inspiring time, especially mammal trapping, pictured. Westminster School said “The pupils have been truly inspired from the amazing experience. Our plans for the near future include: developing an outdoor learning classroom; having a ‘bird box’ enterprise scheme; conservation work at the local nature reserve and more visits to Preston Montford.’ 

Angela said “how rewarding it was to see the young people develop in their confidence and team working skills and to leave enthused to improve their school environment back at Westminster. It would be great to offer the same experience to more.”

If you would like to donate towards the team, you can do so online using:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Preston Montford's Energy

As part of the Field Studies Council, we here at FSC Preston Montford make a concerted effort to reduce our carbon emissions – with the charity as a whole aiming to reduce its carbon footprint by 40% per learner between 2011 and 2020. 

Over the past year we’ve made a number of changes to further reduce our emissions. Our Wenlock accommodation building was refurbished in the summer of 2016 - what better time to connect this and the Darwin building to our Biomass Boiler?! We now have 95% of our estate heated by the boiler, which burns carbon neutral wood chips and has eliminated our need for LPG (Liquid Propane Gas), as the remaining 5% is heated by electric heating. 

Our Biomass Boiler House

We’ve continued to replace lightbulbs with LED and energy saving bulbs, and our kitchen now uses a low energy electric oven and stove, contributing to a 25.3% reduction in annual electricity use since 2012.

New LED Lighting in our Dining Room

Most taps and showers on site are now water saving ‘push’ operated varieties, this stops taps being left running longer than necessary and has also aided a dramatic reduction in water usage over the past 12 months. 

In order to perform our fieldwork with groups we have a small fleet of 3 minibuses, which during 2016 travelled slightly more (2.7%) miles than the previous year, however this is outbalanced by a large decrease in the number of coaches the centre hired for use by larger groups – so overall our carbon emissions from transport will have reduced. More groups are choosing to stay on site, making the most of our fantastic estate, so we hope to see this trend continue. 

FSC Preston Montford

Along with other FSC centres we don’t just take steps to reduce our impact on the environment but we also share what we do with everyone who visits Preston Montford with the hope that they will do their bit when they return home.

Many small changes can go a long way, with our small changes meaning we use 29% less carbon per year than in 2012. To see how much carbon you use at home, you can fill out this easy questionnaire online: http://www.carbonindependent.org/

Written by Ruaridh Maxwell, Education Assistant at FSC Preston Montford.

FSC achieved the Carbon Trust standard in 2015 which not only recognises the work that has been done to reduce carbon emissions but is also a commitment to making future reductions.  You can read more about our commitment to the environment including the FSC Carbon Management plan at http://www.field-studies-council.org/about/environment.aspx

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What is a hedge?

Many of us walk or drive past hedges every day but seldom stop to appreciate their place in the landscape and the environment.  As part of the Growing Confidence (GC) project a group of young people spent a day focussing on hedges - exploring their importance as boundaries, shelters, habitats and food source for insects, birds, animals and people. They also learnt about their conservation and management and had a good as some practical tasks too

Hedges are a mini wood and can contain many different species of trees and shrubs.  If left unmanaged over time a hedge will become a line of trees.  Learning about the different species in a hedge is a challenge in winter when there are no leaves to give helpful clues as to the identity of the tree or shrub. With the expert help of John Handley the group learnt how to use the key in the FSC Guide to the identification of deciduous broad-leaved trees and shrubs in winter to identify twigs from hedges in the Preston Montford estate.

The group braved the cold and helped reinstate a boundary hedge at FSC Preston Montford learning how to plant the young hedge whips of hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, hazel and oak. 

Next was learning how to master the craft of hedgelaying using traditional billhooks. Ian Cheeseborough made it look so easy but the young people discovered it wasn’t quite as simple as it looked. Recently coppiced willow rods were stuck in the ground as practice stems so that everyone could learn how to pleach, make the angled cut, which enables the pleacher, cut stem, to be bent over - layed.

Once this technique was mastered then it was time to lay a section of hazel hedge.

Fiona summed the day up in one sentence ‘I really enjoyed learning how to pleach and using a key to identify winter twigs.’

About Growing Confidence 
Growing Confidence (GC) is a five year project giving young people the opportunity to discover more about wildlife and wild places and have fun learning skills in their local environment.
FSC Preston Montford is working together with Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Fordhall Community Land Initiative and The Plunkett Foundation to offer a wide range of inspiring opportunities for young people aged 11-25.

At FSC Preston Montford we are offering a varied programme of day and residential events and courses to support young people’s interest in the natural world and to help develop their knowledge and skills.

Our next GC event at FSC Preston Monford is Can you spot spring? on 18 March~you can find out more about it and the events offered by all project partners at