Lincolnshire Young Environmentalist Finals - 2023

The final for the 2023 Young Environmentalist took place at Whisby Nature Park on 24th June

The Grow with Nature Club at Hawthorn Tree School in Boston fought off tough competition to be crowned winner of this year’s Lincolnshire Young Environmentalist Awards.
The awards recognise and reward young people under the age of 13 who, either independently or as part of a school or organisation, have shown outstanding dedication to environmental causes. Six finalists were shortlisted and visited by the panel of judges, then invited to share displays and presentations of their projects at Whisby Nature Park, Lincoln, on 24 May.
The standard was extremely high, with the children all demonstrating huge commitment, impressive achievements and exciting plans for the future, but the judges ultimately chose Hawthorn Tree School’s Grow with Nature Club for the enthusiasm and individual initiative of its members, and their success in involving the wider community.
The winning project began after a nursery moved location, leaving the school with a new outside area that was just mud and concrete. A competition was run to come up with a garden design and many of the students had a very similar vision - for wildlife-friendly and sensory spaces, and places for planting and growing, as well as outdoor learning and teamwork. The club was created to turn those ideas into reality.
These children have been there all the way along the journey, shaping the transformation themselves said Linda Benson, awards judge
"The children at Hawthorn Hill have been there from the very start," explained judge Linda Benson. “They have been making things happen, thinking and acting independently.”
One student submitted an application to a local garden centre, not mentioning it to anyone. The first school staff knew was when they were told they have been awarded a number of gardening resources. Another pupil, George, 11, spent a whole weekend contacting everyone he knew to ask if they had any unwanted equipment they might donate. The request snowballed and the club gratefully received everything from plant pots and tools to a rainwater butt.   
Recycling and upcycling has been a big part of the project.
“I used wood from our old kitchen to build a bird table like a mini picnic bench for the birds that don’t use the high feeders,” George said. “And we’re growing herbs in an old tractor tyre.”
“They’re learning life skills that they will one day pass on to their own children,” said judge Chris Milnes.   
Zoe Rumsby was also on the judging panel. “The kids were so enthusiastic and they really knew their stuff,” she said of the winners. “Their site was bare concrete a year and a half ago and now it’s a proper garden. That’s what amazed us.”
Hawthorn Tree teacher Nicola Ingamells, who has been helping to run the Grow with Nature Club since the beginning, was delighted to see the children receive the award. “I’m just really proud. It was the passion the children have for making their plans a reality that spurred me on to join in. We’re still in the early days but everything they envisioned for the space, they can see taking shape, and to have that recognised is fantastic,” she said. “It shows them that they’re having an impact.”
They’ve worked so hard for themselves and for the younger children to come, and this award is inspiration for them to keep going
Nicola Ingamells, teacher, Hawthorn Tree School said the club is now so popular within the school that children attend on rotation and there is a waiting list to get involved.
“I joined to help wildlife and learn about gardening. I was surprised and overwhelmed to hear the judges say our name,” said Arturis, 9. “Some of the displays and presentations from other schools were so creative.”
The 2023 runners-up were Birchwood Junior School in Lincoln, Waddington All Saints Eco Club in Lincoln, Kirkby La Thorpe Primary Academy in Sleaford, Bourne Abbey Church of England Primary Academy in Bourne and Stanford Junior and Infant School Gardening Club in Grimsby. While they were at Whisby, all the finalists enjoyed activities including den-building and wild art in the grounds of the education centre.

The Lincolnshire Young Environmentalist Awards are organised by the Rotary Club of Lindum, Lincoln, and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, and sponsored by FCC Environment and Pennells Garden Centre Lincoln 

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