Bryony Carter, Natural Childhood Manager at Shropshire Wildlife Trust explains how they are using the John Muir Award to inspire young people to explore, discover, conserve and share their local wild space; and gain a nationally recognised award in the process!


          “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks” – John Muir


 John Muir is a bit of an unsung hero. A conservation pioneer and one of the founding fathers for the national park movement. He was also a writer, explorer, inventor, ecologist, botanist and activist. He is a legend, yet hardly anyone knows he is a legend.
Despite his death being over 100 years ago, one young person at the Growing Confidence project sees John Muir as his ‘homeboy’. Here at Shropshire Wildlife Trust we feel that ‘The Man’, John Muir, perfectly encompasses the ethos of our charitable objectives.  He was, and still is, an inspirational figure. He went against the grain and questioned the norm. He pushed the boundaries of his potential and decided to show the world that there was another way. The echo of his impassioned voice to engage people to see the wonder of nature and the need to protect it, is ringing out louder than ever today. We have taken this spirit and pushed it right through the heart of our Growing Confidence project. 
Formed in 1986, the John Muir Trust was created to help protect some of the UK’s most loved landscapes. The John Muir Award is a flexible, nationally recognised award, available to people of all ages and backgrounds. It is about fully immersing yourself in your local wild space, understanding what is special about it, learning from it, and helping to protect it. It is made up of four challenges; Discover, Explore, Conserve and Share. We use this framework to support young people to gain wider skills whilst obtaining their award.
Over the duration of the Our Bright Future Growing Confidence project, we have supported well over 100 young people in Shropshire to achieve their John Muir Award. We work closely with the John Muir Trust to make every award count for each young person. The John Muir award is easy to achieve because it is so flexible. The Discover Award only requires the equivalent of five days, spread over a time period that works for the young person. We have run awards that have taken two years to complete, and others where individuals obtain their award in a week.
The best bit (apart about the awards themselves!) is the opportunity to learn a wide variety of skills whilst completing the four challenges. Young people at Growing Confidence have taken part in canoeing, bat surveys, conservation projects and natural heritage projects. The Award is vast and varied, making it accessible and appealing for young people. By just going for a walk, you can learn so much about an environment. Not just the animals and plants that live there, but the rhythm of the wild space; what it’s like during different seasons, what it’s uses are, what it sounds like and smells like. All experiences with the natural world which take place through the award can support young people to learn and build confidence, which of course is what we’re all about at Growing Confidence.
To find out more about the John Muir Trust and the award visit their website
Anyone can achieve the John Muir Award; you do not even have to be part of a project. You can independently sign up and create your own award delivery model.