Bee Meadow

16 12 2013

This year we have been busy working to try and improve biodiversity on our 120 acres.  We have a mixed bag of land, most of which is broad-leaved woodland.

What we really lacked was some quality grassland so we thought we’d establish a wildflower meadow.  There has been a lot of work done on the nearby Castlemartin Range to help the 19 species of bumblebee present, in particular the Shrill Carder Bumblebee.  As we’re only a couple of kilometres away we wondered if we could help.

After contacting the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BCT) we were successful in getting funding for a wildflower meadow.  The wildflower seed came form a Pembrokeshire supplier, Wyndrush Wild.  The seed supplier was excellent and made sure we had extra Yellow Rattle to keep the grasses down.Image

Now we’re just waiting to see what starts growing.  By next year we hope to have a reasonable meadow and lots of bumblebees & other invertebrates.  One of the extra beneficiaries will be our resident bat population.




Orielton Fungal Bioblitz

26 07 2013

Orielton Field Centre is hosting its first Fungal Bioblitz event. One day to discover, identify and record as many fungi species in and around the Orielton Estate as possible. There will be local experts and enthusiasts on hand to help. The event will focus on the fungal diversity of the estate but in the true nature of a Bioblitz event we will be recording sightings from all other walks of life.


There will also be sessions aimed at kids exploring the diversity of Orielton woods in fun and exciting ways.




EU Study Visit: Greece 2013

13 06 2013

During April this year I had the opportunity to participate in a Transversal Study Visit that was held in Corinth, Greece. Various organisations are involved in delivering these opportunities including CEDEFOP (European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training) and the UK National Agency, Ecorys. Study visits are part of an EU Lifelong Learning Programme, and are designed to allow education specialists and decision makers from different EU countries to come together to discuss a particular topic and share good practice.
I participated in a week long study visit entitled “Raising awareness of protection of the environment” which was part of the greater theme “Education for active citizenship and sustainable development”. 13 people from across the EU were invited to the event, which was aimed at sharing and generating ideas to encourage people of all ages to adopt a more positive attitude towards the environment and develop a sustainable ethos. P1220610
To begin the week, all participants presented themselves to the group and gave examples of how they are trying to raise awareness of protection of the environment within their organisations. It was pleasing to see the similar approaches being taken by different countries as well as learning about some new innovative techniques. During the week we visited 6 schools in the surrounding area to learn about the practices they had put in places, including initiatives such as Eco Schools.P1230265
Deni Papadopoulou (our host) had arranged a very interesting programme for us as we were able to visit schools in both poor and rich areas, as well as see age groups ranging from pre-school to college. This gave us a good introduction to the Greek education system and allowed us to see the differing problems experienced when trying to promote protection for the environment. Each school was incredibly welcoming and eager to show us their “green initiatives”. Students performed plays and gave presentations detailing their achievements as well as their aspirations for the future. Examples of current projects included having eco gardens to grow food, testing the water quality to pressurise the local government into improving it, making recycled projects to sell, running events in conjunction with the local community and going outside for at least one lesson every week.
We also had the opportunity to participate in cultural visits to places like the archaeological sites in Ancient Corinth, Epidaurus and the spectacular old Monastery of St George situated by Doxa lake.P1230390 P1230199This allowed us to learn more about Greek culture and its effects upon education, as well as giving us time to reflect on what we had seen at the schools and discuss our study topic.
At the end of the week we had a big discussion tying together everything we had learned and wrote a report highlighting some of the good practices discussed as well as looking at problems and ideas for solutions, exerts of which will be published on the CEDEFOP website.
Overall this was an amazing experience and I would thoroughly recommend it to everyone! Visit for more information about visits.

ESDGC update!

14 03 2013

Yesterday myself (Sarah) and Joe went back to visit Ysgol Glan-Y-Mor and Ysgol Y Strade armed with  some knowledge, a few tools and lots of enthusiasm to help them with their ESDGC targets! 

We visited Ysgol Glan-Y-Mor first and spent the morning clearing out their forgotten pond. It had become massively overgrown so we cut back some of the trees to make the area more accessible, and spent a while litter picking to improve the aesthetics of the space. The team of students were absolutely brilliant and thoroughly got involved to produce excellent results! They even managed to move an huge tractor tyre and found a fox skeleton among the undergrowth which was taken back to the science department for everyone to have a look at. Over all a job well done!

We then headed over to Ysgol Y Strade to help build a greenhouse made out of plastic bottles! They had collected the bottles the previous year and a timber frame had already been put up, so it was our job to help create a wire framework to hold the bottles in place and then start putting everything together. Again we had a wonderful team of students getting involved (even during the rain!) and managed to achieve a lot in only a couple of hours!

Each school had made a good start on their respective projects, and we look forward to visiting again soon to see how they progress!


Whats happened in January

10 02 2013

The New Year at Orielton starts with some exciting developments. Joe has been busy introducing a new project to the centre, a Wildlife Watch group. This is a nationwide initiative where Wildlife Watch (the leading environmental action club for kids) aims to introduce people to their environments, to teach them how to protect and conserve it, but also just as importantly how to engage with and enjoy it.
Our local area has so much to offer! With high levels of diversity, spectacular habitats and species unique to the Pembrokeshire coast, our goal is to lead groups of local youths and parents to explore and understand these environments on the last Saturday of every month. We hope to launch this programme in late February, leading groups through our extensive woodland, our freshwater sites and on rocky shore days, taking advantage of Pembrokeshire’s famous coastline.
Watch here for updates or visit for more details.
With the upgrading of our project files for A-level groups, our handyman Rich has worked tirelessly to design and craft some new folder holding boxes, being both sturdier and more pleasing to the eye, we can’t wait to get these into the classroom!!
The 23rd January was a day for the ladies of the centre to enjoy, as we had the fire brigade turn up to deliver our fire safety training, with an excuse to let off fire extinguishers and soup & sandwiches to look forward to at lunch, it was a welcome reprieve from the usual January routine of cleaning and painting the centre in preparation for the new season.
Sarah is involved with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) again this month with a visit to Lamphey to help guide the local Cub group through some Astrology.
We Congratulate Milly on passing her minibus driving test earlier this month and wish luck to Sarah as she undertakes her Walking Group Leader award assessment at the end of the month.
New Actions for 2013Milly passes Minibus test
Orielton staff are involved with the BioBlitz event taking place at Stackpole in May, a 24 hour data collection which is designed for field experts and the public to collaborate and survey a variety of habitats. Our team will be leading aspects of the course, as we aim to increase our involvement with the community.
For more information on the BioBlitz vist:
we look forward to seeing you there.
In celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Field Studies Council, FSC Dale Fort are hosting two Marine Biology based events this year, in March they have organised a Marine Education Workshop, with field techniques being demonstrated, explained and discussed; and in April are providing a Marine Research Symposium, with talks being delivered on the multitude of marine life that can be found in British coastal habitats.
In honour of the same celebration, as well as the 50th anniversary of the opening of Orielton House as a Field Studies Centre, FSC Orielton are holding a garden party in August and inviting local school groups for a day of environmental science fun in the sun!

STEM networking to inspire the next generation!

6 02 2013


As part of the FSC’s commitment to “bringing environmental understanding to all” tutors have now signed up to be STEM ambassadors! The STEM network ( is designed to create opportunities to inspire young people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. For us, this involves visiting local schools, groups and clubs to help run activities in these areas. Teachers and group leaders etc can get in touch with the STEM network to ask for ambassadors to help them at any time, and in the majority of cases, there is an ambassador out there willing to help!

Last year I visited Ysgol Bro Gwaun on one of their careers days to talk about science in the work place where I ran an activity looking at transferring energy through the ecosystem. We saw how much energy is lost as it is transferred and talked about ways to minimise this. We also discussed how this will affect our lives and food choices in the coming years, especially with the population teetering around 7 billion.

I have also recently been involved in helping the Narberth brownies and Lamphey cubs attain their astronomy badge. I’ve joined Mark Smith, a local theoretical physicist to help give them an understanding of the universe and do a spot of star gazing (when we are lucky enough to have clear skies!). After all, who could fail to be inspired by our incredible universe?!



So if you are a teacher/group leader and are keen to promote these subjects to your students, get in touch with the STEM network and see who is out there to help!

Taiwan 2012

30 01 2013

This blog is arguably a little late to be published, but I got there eventually.


In October 2012 Chris Millican, Milly Piggott and myself (Joe Newberry) boarded a long-haul flight bound for Taipei, Taiwan via Hong Kong.  The team worked closely with the Taiwan Forestry Bureau (TFB) for just over two weeks.

Around three quarters of Taiwan are wooded and TFB are responsible for the management of much of this. Within the forests TFB managed 18 National Forest Recreation areas, 8 of which have their own education department and it was a 5 year programme of partnership between FSC and TFB’s nature centres that drew FSC staff.

The visit started with several days In Taipei where Chris gave a number of talks to a public audience at a professional forum on outdoor education and Milly and I gave talks to TFB staff on our work as Tutors. During our time in Taipei we met with several key figures in TFB including Director General Lee.


After Taipei we headed south-east to the first Nature centre on our tour, Chihnan in Hualien County.  In the Nature centre on the forested slope above Lake Liyu (Koi Carp) their tutors demonstrated a fantastic range of courses and resources, including papier mache models of each bear species from around the world.

Next our journey took us further south to Taitung County where we started with a tour of Jhihben Nature Centre. We were looking for suitable field sites for investigations because over the next few days we were going to run a workshops for staff of Nature centres from around Taiwan with a big emphasis on Fieldwork and A-level Investigations in particular.

The Workshop involved getting TFB staff into small groups and encouraging them to make a scientific observation within their surroundings. Once they had made an observation it was up to them to formulate hypotheses, design a method, collect data, then analyse and evaluate their data to present their findings to their peers.  The groups came out with some very interesting and imaginative investigations and in a very short time where able to present some pretty solid findings and lovely posters.


Once the workshop was over we had just enough time at Jhihben to observe a little teaching before continuing south to Pingtung County and Shuangliou Nature Centre. At Shuangliou we were escorted by TFB staff and volunteers around the Nature Centre where we got an idea of the fantastic facilities, and to get an idea of the programmes that go on there.

After Shuangliou our visit to Taiwan was drawing to a close, just enough time to head down to Kenting, the most southern county of Taiwan to meet with staff there and complete our circum navigation of the fantastic country. After a day’s rest we took the high-speed train up the east coast back to Taipei where we said our goodbyes and board a plane having learnt a lot from the TFB staff we worked with, and shared some memorable experiences with the people of Taiwan.