Celebrating John Muir

Christmas Eve marked the centenary of the death one of Scotland’s great conservation heroes, John Muir. We caught up with Bethan Haston, John Muir Award Scotland Project Manager, to find out how the John Muir Trust has contributed to celebrating Muir’s legacy in Scotland.

The John Muir Trust has had a creative couple of years helping people engage with the relevance of John Muir and his ethos throughout Year of Natural Scotland 2013 and Homecoming 2014.

Every year the John Muir Trust supports thousands of people from all backgrounds to become aware of Muir’s story and influence through the Trust’s main engagement initiative, the John Muir Award. Thanks to support from SNH and the Scottish Government over the last two years, the Trust has also been able to help develop new Muir-related resources with a range of partners, as well as getting involved with the John Muir Festival and new John Muir Way.

Highlights from the past two years include:

– Creating a hub for all the John Muir information, events, activities and examples on a collaborative website – discoverjohnmuir.com. The site is regularly updated, and since its launch has been viewed over 12,000 times.

discoverjohnmuir.com website image

– Co-developing a series of 20, fun activities in the spirit of John Muir, with the Geography Collective: Mission:Explore John Muir. Free and available online in English and Gaelic, the e-book has been downloaded over 180,000 times and received a five star review from the Times Educational Supplement Connect Forum.

– Contributing to the steering group for a new graphic novel, John Muir, Earth – Planet, Universe, with Education Scotland, Creative Scotland, SNH, and Scottish Book Trust. The novel brings Muir’s life in a colourful and accessible way, and has proved popular –the free on-line version (and teaching notes) has been downloaded over 1,700 times and hard copies sent to every secondary school in Scotland.

– Creating a new short film, John Muir: Back to the Future, to find out and share what young people think of John Muir today. Produced by Rob McDougal.com, the film was premiered at the John Muir Conference in May, and is free to download online.

– Supporting UZ Arts to deliver and promote the John Muir Festival and the new John Muir Way in Spring 2014. The Trust heard from over 20 John Muir Award groups who’ve been engaging with the John Muir Way in their own unique way, including:

– East Lothian primary schools creating John Muir Flags to travel from Dunbar to Helensburgh during the John Muir Festival

– Braes High School walking and learning about the geography of the path as part of their S3 curriculum

– NHS Forth Valley Healthy Hearts group completing the entire route in just 8 days to help improve their health and wellbeing.

It was a culmination of all these projects and successes that culminated in a nomination for the John Muir Trust in the Nature of Scotland Awards 2014 – Youth and Education category. The nomination was a fitting way to acknowledge the creative partnerships approach and wide reach achieved by the Trust. The John Muir Trust looks forward to continuing this work in 2015 – connecting people from all backgrounds with the relevance of John Muir and his messages in a modern day context.

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