Posted: 05.06.21 at 06:00 by Tim Lethaby
After just over a year, the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) welcomed back its intrepid Young Rangers greeted by some of Mendip's finest weather - rain and fog.
Due to lockdown and the circumstances of the last year the AONB Unit have been unable to run the Young Ranger sessions in person and doing their best to stay connected remotely.
The Young Rangers take part in sessions that incorporate all aspects of the Mendip Hills AONB. These young people are the future ambassadors of the Mendip Hills.
Investing in young people allows the unit to secure the future legacy of conserving and enhancing the Mendip Hills AONB, offering something totally different to other youth groups.
The AONB's Lauren Holt said: "We found it really difficult to have the same impact running sessions online as the objective of the Young Ranger programme is to be an outdoor learning experience.
"We decided that the best thing to do would be to offer an extension of the programme instead. Our current cohort started in September 2019 and would normally graduate this July.
"However, they will now be graduating in July 2022. This means they will have another year to make up for all the time we lost and get the experience they signed up for.
"All of our Young Rangers are so excited to continue with the sessions and spend another year as a group. Well done to the Young Rangers for a great first session back with Mendip Hills AONB.
"An additional thank you to the volunteers who support the programme and our partners who help facilitate sessions for them across the hills. Welcome back Young Rangers."
For their first session back the Young Rangers were hands on supporting a local community tree planting group and tending to some newly planted saplings on one of Mendip's nature reserves.
They plan to continue helping with this project in autumn, when they will have the opportunity to plant out some trees that are growing in the local tree nursery.
They learned about the challenges of tree planting on Mendip and the value of getting the right tree in the right place so woodlands are resilient in the future.