Caroline Anderson has been coordinating the Snapberry project since 2009. Snapberry uses photography to connect school pupils with the natural landscape of Argyll. It is a collaboration between local Scottish Natural Heritage staff and Lochgilphead High School. Under the expert guidance of our award-winning photographer, Lorne Gill, students are encouraged to take a closer look at their surroundings and explore different aspects of photography. A talented wildlife photographer herself, today Caroline reports on the 11th year of the project.
The 2019 Snapberry Project was a little different to the previous 10 years. This year Lochgilphead SNH staff and Katie, from the Argyll & Isles Coast and Countryside Trust, took 10 pupils with additional support needs (ASN) out for the day to Taynish National Nature Reserve. We have always included ASN pupils in previous years but never before had we taken out a whole group.
The day was glorious with the sun breaking through by mid-morning, and the midgies were almost bearable too! As usual Taynish provided lots of photo opportunities for the pupils who explored a range of habitat types, from the bog at the boardwalk, to the woods and the shore, snapping away as they went. The Art Trail is on display at the reserve just now, so that added an additional dimension to the day. Our national nature reserves are just the most perfect places for this type of project!
After lunch at the picnic area down by The Mill we enjoyed a treasure hunt and played a pollinator word game. We then headed up through the woods to the hut circle, as one of the pupils was particularly interested in archaeology.
In previous years we have seen remarkable responses from ASN pupils when they are taken outside of the classroom and into nature. One year a boy whose responses were pretty limited in school interacted with his peers in a way never before seen by the teachers. We have also seen pupils discover a natural talent for photography that they never knew they had.
This year was no exception and the highlight of the day for me was a teacher expressing her delight that one pupil was so comfortable that he had removed his earbuds for the first time in two years. Because of his condition he is very sensitive to noise and wears earbuds to cancel it out. Another great example of the positive benefits of nature for young people!
An exhibition of the pupil’s photographs will be on display at Taynish Mill during Artmap Open Studios – from 27th August to the end of September.