Beth Penhallurick is Manx Wildlife Trust’s new Education Officer, delivering nature education in schools for the Isle of Man Government and in the community on behalf of the charity. We meet her.
Tell us about your career prior to joining Manx Wildlife Trust?
Prior to joining Manx Wildlife Trust, I taught environmental education for a charity in Costa Rica. This involved running sessions about local wildlife and promoting the use of plastic-free or package-free alternatives. It also taught me that if I can teach in a language that I am not fluent in, then, going forward, teaching in English will be a breeze. Prior to that my experience has largely involved working with children in the charity sector following my degree in BSc (Hons) International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response.
What does your role at Manx Wildlife Trust involve?
I am the Education Officer at Manx Wildlife Trust, which involves teaching people about Manx wildlife and how we can act for it. Most of my work is with children and young people but every day is different; from school visits to exploring our nature reserves!
Why is it important we educate people about the importance of, and threats to, nature?
For a long time, many scientists believed that the best and only way to protect nature was to keep people away from it. However, many researchers now believe that educating people about nature, is amazing not only for the wellbeing of our wildlife but ourselves. In the face of global biodiversity loss, it can seem impossible to make a difference, but I believe that with education, we can reduce climate anxiety and educate people about nature-based solutions.
How do you do this in innovative ways?
I believe the best way to learn about nature is to experience it up close. For me it’s not about how many species the children can name at the end of a session, but whether they experienced the joy of exploring our UNESCO Biosphere. Whether they find a plant they have never seen before or spot a rare species of bird, it’s that joy which makes children want to care for our wildlife so they can continue to reap the benefits for years to come.
What has been the most fun thing you have done so far?
There have been so many fun things, it’s hard to choose. I have really enjoyed running rock-pooling session as it is great to see children engaging first-hand with Manx marine life. Witnessing the joy on a child (or adult)’s face when they find a tiny shrimp or see a hermit crab crawl out of its shell is amazing.
How are you enjoying life in our UNESCO Biosphere?
I’ve only lived on the Island for a couple of months now, but I am loving it. Having never lived on an island before, I am continually amazed by how diverse the landscape can be within such a small area.