A VOLUNTEER who has been teaching children about nature for 18 years has been nominated for a prestigious national education award.
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust education volunteer Rhoda Bedington, who works at Brandon Marsh Nature Centre, was nominated for an award by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) in recognition of her commitment and passion for her role.
Rhoda now faces a public vote to find out if she will take home the title of Inspiring Educator – but says it was a surprise to be nominated in the first place.
She said: “To be shortlisted as a finalist is an even bigger surprise.
“I don’t see myself as doing anything different from the other volunteers and members of staff, I’ve just been there a little longer. I think everyone in the education team does an excellent job.”
Rhoda helps to run sessions with schools and during the school holidays, and has engaged thousands of children in outdoor education during her 18 years in the role.
She teaches children about the nature reserve’s animals and plants, shows new staff and volunteers how to lead certain sessions, and is a regular with the volunteers who help maintain the site.
She first got involved with Brandon Marsh when her children left their primary school, where she used to volunteer in various roles.
She said: “As I have had an interest in natural history since childhood, and worked with children both as a primary school volunteer. As a beaver scout leader, and previously a brownie and guide leader, it seemed ideal.
“I especially like the bird watching sessions as it has been a life-long hobby of mine. Pond dipping is also very rewarding, and is the activity most enjoyed by the children. It was new to me when I started but I find it as fascinating as the children do, and over the 18 years have built up a basic knowledge of the creatures that live in our school pond and how they interact.
“I find it very satisfying and rewarding to see the children enjoying their trip, especially those that might not have had the opportunity before.
“Hopefully it will give them some appreciation of the countryside which is important as they are the future guardians of it.”
Kim Somerville, head of CLOtC, said: “The awards recognise and celebrate the people who are transforming the lives of children and young people by providing or championing exciting and inspiring learning outside the classroom experiences. We want as many people as possible to vote for their local hero so they can get the credit they deserve.”
Visit www.lotc.org.uk/news-and-events/awards-for-outstanding-contribution-to-lotc to vote for Rhoda. Voting closes on October 26.