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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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Wild, Wet and Windy!

In the British Isles we often talk at great length about this subject – scorching, frosty, dreich/dreary, clear, gusty and, my personal favourite, mizzle (misty drizzle, if you did not know). What am I talking about? It is our weather!
This November has played host to some fairly intense weather in Shropshire and here at FSC Preston Montford it has not gone unnoticed. On Thursday 17th November, members of the education team witnessed high winds violently encouraging our beautiful fiery beech tree to relinquish its leaves; casting them high into the air and causing them to fly horizontally past the Education Office. Needless to say, the beech is sadly looking barer now and Ian Cheeseborough has been having a busy time raking up all the fallout from our estate trees. A heartfelt thank you goes out to St. Peters, Wem, who persevered round multiple blocked roads to reach us for their KS2 Darwin Taster stay. We had a lovely couple of days exploring the grounds in what turned into rather fine autumnal weather.
Our beautiful fiery beech tree before the high winds.
In addition, between 9am on Monday 21st November and 9am on Tuesday 22nd November we saw a record being broken at FSC Preston Montford for our wettest November day on record! A grand total of 37mm of rain fell in the 24 hour period – a whole 1.2mm more than our previous record on Sunday 5th November 2000, according to figures kindly provided by David Morgan (Education Technology Officer). 
We were joined on this record breaking day by Wheelers Lane, Birmingham; again visiting for a KS2 Darwin Taster stay; who braved the continuous rainfall to participate in orienteering and mammal hotels outside. As ever, FSC Preston Montford Tutors were adept at adapting the programme to ensure a memorable stay, including lighting a virtual bonfire in the classroom to end the day on a warming note.
Like all FSC Centres, FSC Preston Montford has a MET Weather Station that feeds into the national observation records. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

D of E Volunteering at Preston Montford

The D of E (or Duke of Edinburgh) Award is a nationwide award scheme for young people from 14-21. It involves 4 sections: Physical, Skills, Volunteering and Expedition. 3 of which can be done here at Preston Montford. I chose to do my skills section.

The skills section involves learning about a non-sporting hobby and the skills it involves. I have been learning about the different techniques that are used in conservation.

I started on the 4th October making a woodlouse house. I was joined by Iain and Ruaridh had to collect moldy/old wood to attract the woodlice to a box where they can be caught and counted as part of mark release recapture which can give conservationists an idea of how many woodlice there are in a certain area.

On the 29th October I had a go at coppicing. Me, Ruaridh and Angela had to cut hazel trees down to their stumps so that they could regrow in different directions to create habitats for the smaller animals on the ground level rather than growing into a big tree. We had to use: loppers, secateurs and pruning saws to cut the branches depending on their size. We then put the branches to one side to be used around the centre. Some were used for firewood whereas some were used for other things.

On the 5th November, I was reusing the wood from the coppicing. We used billhooks to strip off some of the smaller branches off the bigger branches and put the smaller pieces to the side for firewood. We then used the bigger branches to finish weaving a fence to cover some containers near the front of the centre. It was a great use of the wood from the coppicing the week before and it was great to see the fence grow as more wood was added.