Outreach and engagement on the Isles of Scilly

18 November 2022  /  By Esther Farrant, Education and Outreach Officer

ReMEDIES has been doing some amazing engagement and outreach on the Isles of Scilly! In October, a host of exciting activities got underway, led by The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, as the  Festival of Nature launched for the first time! The events and engagement sessions showcased the wildlife on Scilly, including seagrass meadows. The Islands are home to some of the healthiest seagrass meadows in all the British Isles!

Education and Outreach Officer Esther with a stall on the beach in the Isles of Scilly, covered in various underwater artefacts including starfish, crab claws and shells.

Esther ready for action!

School engagement and outreach

Esther ran three incredible workshops at the Five Islands Academy, the only senior school on the islands. Students explored ocean artefacts as well as designing their own co-mooring systems. The workshops engaged them with the amazing wildlife in their local meadows. Students were fully invested in protecting seagrass by the end of their sessions, and Esther was astounded by their ocean knowledge, impressive collaborative working and attention to detail.

Primary workshops

The primary workshop involved a compass and mapping activity. Students applied their local knowledge, combined with some hints and tips from scuba divers’ notes, to produce a habitat map. They then plotted the location of seagrass meadows, ocean wildlife and the borders of Marine Conservation Zones. The students took to the task well, demonstrating excellent local knowledge. They could even identify nearly all the ocean artefacts!

An image of school children taking part in an education and outreach workshop about seagrass. From Five Islands Academy on the Isles of Scilly.

One of Esther’s workshops at Five Islands Academy

Secondary workshops

The secondary workshop was ‘Engineering for the Seabed’. It gave students a chance to learn about the threats faced by seagrass meadows and why they are in urgent need of protection and restoration. Students designed mooring systems that don’t scour the seabed. The results were a STEM workshop masterpiece! Students of all ages provided effective solutions to the problem. The workshop culminated in a competition to test the students’ models and a constructive critical evaluation of each design. Students finished by looking at the Eco-moorings ReMEDIES have installed for this purpose. They also discovered how they can get involved to become part of the solution.

The students were a testament to the Isles of Scilly. They were knowledgeable seafarers, and articulate speakers, with reasoned approaches to green initiatives. The work the school is doing to make the islands as eco-friendly as possible should give hope to the nation. There is a generation of world changers moving up through local schools who will turn the tide on the health of our Oceans and strive to protect these valuable habitats.

Community engagement and outreach

Esther gives a presentation to the local community at the Mermaid Pub

Outreach event at the Mermaid pub

Continuing her mission of engagement and outreach on the Isles of Scilly, Esther had more activities planned. She engaged with the community through an evening presentation and talk at the Mermaid pub. This was well-received by local boaters and stakeholders.

A leaf-shaped piece of paper with a string passing through it. On it is written "I will avoid anchoring in seagrass meadows where possible to reduce impact on this amazing habitat" On it are pictures of crabs, fish, seagrass, seaweed and hearts.

A pledge to protect the seagrass

In addition, the local farmers’ market played host to Esther and her wildflower seed-bomb stall. This stall links people with the ReMEDIES activity of planting seagrass meadows by encouraging them to plant wildflower seeds, creating habitat for pollinators. Using a bespoke Isles of Scilly seed mix, members of the community joined Esther to make seed bombs while learning about seagrass.

A table covered in artefacts from the sea, such as starfish, rocks, shells. A man and a boy are standing looking at the table. Two women show them what the objects are. Taken at the farmers market as part of our education and outreach on the Isles of Scilly

The educational wildflower seed-bomb stall

There was so much interest in the local seagrass meadows that Esther teamed up with local artist Ellie Verrecchia. They led a seagrass nature walk where they looked at some of the intertidal and subtidal seagrass along the shoreline, before settling down to paint some seascapes and talk about the wildlife of the local waters. Esther even painted a seascape to take home herself!

It was a successful week of outreach and engagement! Making our first educational connections in the Isles of Scilly is something for the project to celebrate.

If you are a school teacher and would like to find out more about our workshops, you can explore the educational options on our website, or contact our education officer via email on esther.farrant@oceanconservationtrust.org.