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Charity brings outdoor education about River Dee to Aberdeenshire playgrounds

River Dee Trust education officer Jane Lilley is teaching children about the River Dee Provided by River Dee Trust
River Dee Trust education officer Jane Lilley is teaching children about the River Dee Provided by River Dee Trust

A conservation charity is taking the wonders of the River Dee to schools across the north-east to teach children about the importance of the famous waterway.

The River Dee Trust, which works to preserve the river for future generations, had to stop its typical educational outreach programmes with the start of the pandemic in order to limit the spread of the virus.

But in recent months, the organisation has completely reimagined its services to help teach youngsters in a safe manner.

It employed former teacher Jane Lilley to be the trust’s new education officer, and Ms Lilley has created a number of downloadable lessons for classrooms, and has come up with some real-life learning sessions she can deliver in school playgrounds while observing social distancing.

Pupils taking part can get their hands dirty making their very own rivers in playgrounds out of natural materials, and are invited to become scientists for the day by identifying creepy crawlies donated by the Raemoir Trout Fishery.

So far, Ms Lilley has visited almost 20 schools with her new programme.

Ms Lilley said: “Starting a new job in a new field and not being able to go to the office and work with your new colleagues was a huge challenge.

“I spent endless hours learning, emailing, and Googling to get to grips with the new subject that I would be sharing with children.

“So far, I have been able to do 17 school visits and I have loved every single one.

“There are of course numerous safety measures in place.

“After each visit, all resources are always cleaned with alcohol and then quarantined for 72 hours as well as me maintaining a two-metre distance.

“I am so grateful to the schools for welcoming me into their playgrounds and for their children I have met for all their enthusiasm and fantastic questions.”

The trust estimates that angling on the River Dee generates around £15 million annually for the community, and supports 500 rural jobs.

By promoting the river and conservation efforts, the trust aims to help protect both the local environment and employment.

Ms Lilley added: “The trust is so grateful to our education funders, CNOOC International, Taqa, Apex Tubulars and the Dee Salmon Fishery Improvement Association.

“Not only have they offered support during this difficult time, but they share our vision of communicating the joys of the Dee with the Deeside community”

Schools wishing to book a free visit from Ms Lilley can email education@riverdee.org

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