You could become a trainee ranger

Belfast Hills Partnership are delighted to announce the return of their free Trainee Ranger Scheme this Autumn and are looking for young people between the ages of 18-25 to get involved.

Now in its fifth year the highly successful Trainee Ranger Scheme returns to offer young people between the ages of 18-25 an opportunity to gain practical experience in the environmental sector.

It is about improving the health and wellbeing of those taking part, whilst at the same time increasing their employability skills as they take part in a range of practical conservation tasks such as tree planting, habitat management and wildlife surveys.

Participants will also receive nationally recognised awards and gain a Lantra accreditation in the use of strimmers and brushcutters.

Some of the young people who have been trainee rangers in the Belfast Hills

Research has shown that nature is a proven solution to tackling issues prevalent among young people today, such as mental health, living in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, economic instability and the climate crisis. It is the hope of the Belfast Hills Partnership that the Trainee Ranger Scheme can help to tackle the issues young people are dealing with in a positive way.

The programme is part of Wild Youth, a joint project between the Belfast Hills Partnership and Ulster Wildlife, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund. Wild Youth delivers wild wellbeing sessions with young people in and around the Belfast Hills, using nature to improve their physical and mental health. It’s about unleashing the potential of young people, so they can make a big, positive impact and become an unstoppable force for good.

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Patricia Deeney, the Youth Development Officer at the Belfast Hills Partnership, said: “I am delighted to see the return of our Trainee Ranger Scheme for 2022.

“It is great to see how participants develop and grow over the twelve weeks of activities and training.

“Past participants have gone on from the programme to pursue further education in an environmental field, secured employment as a result of joining the programme and made lifelong friends along the way.”

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Belfast Hills Partnership Manager Jim Bradley added: “It has long been established that getting close to nature and the outdoors improves health and wellbeing. Our goal with the Trainee Ranger Scheme is to help young people to develop confidence and self-esteem by nurturing their connection to the local environment, leading to greater involvement in the Belfast Hills or to further volunteering, training or employment.”

The deadline for applications is Tuesday September 13. The scheme itself starts on Tuesday October 4, and takes place every Tuesday for 15 weeks. Visit belfasthills.org for more information and to download an application form.