When we heard from our lovely Community Fundraising colleagues at the RSPB Scottish Headquarters about a competition at a local bakery to design and invent a new cupcake, we thought it would make a great task for our Wildlife Explorer Group, which meets at the Hermitage of Braid in Edinburgh. The fact that the winning cupcake would also be sold in the bakery and 50p from each cupcake would be donated to the group, was the icing on the cupcake, so to speak!
We asked our HOBBITs members (Hermitage of Braid Birders in Training, if you don’t mind) to come up with a cupcake recipe that they thought would not only sell well in Bibi’s Bakery, but that expressed the work of the HOBBITs as well – and we think that we have come up with a real winner! Our recipe idea is a Bee-Friendly Cupcake, Flavoured with Lavender Sugar and with a Honey Icing and Edible Bee on top! We think this recipe really demonstrates the wildlife and environmentally-friendly approach of our Wildlife Explorer Group, and includes two of a bee’s most favourite things – lavender and honey! The name of the cupcake is also quite clever really, it will hopefully encourage people not only to think about bees, but to “be friendly” to all nature and wildlife! See what we did there.......
The HOBBITs are confident that both the look and flavour of this cupcake would encourage Bibi’s customers to buy it, and now we are all keeping our fingers crossed that Bibi’s agree! If they do, our group members will be so excited to see our cupcakes on the shelves, and know that the proceeds from the sales will go towards helping both the work of the RSPB, and helping the HOBBITs as well!
There is no nature task too big for the HOBBITs, and we have turned our hands to creating nature art and crow sculptures to add some wow factor for visitors to the Hermitage, built minibeast mansions and hedgehog homes to help the local wildlife, as well as planting holly trees and building our very own wildlife mini-gardens. However, all this environmental work requires resources, and so our cupcake fundraising will allow our group to continue this work, which we think not only benefits the wildlife at the Hermitage, but all the visitors as well!
If we’re totally honest, I don’t think any of our leaders were particularly enthralled about doing fundraising activities with our Wildlife Explorer group – there’s so much other exciting things we want to do at our meetings! But actually, being involved in something as unique and fun as inventing cupcakes, has totally changed our perspective, and we were all incredibly surprised at how well the HOBBITs responded to the idea of fundraising as well. In fact, we seemed to have started something in our group, as our members have all come up with great ideas for cupcake sales at school and sponsored home-made boat races for the future, all in an attempt to help the RSPB do what it does best.
I would encourage everyone to think outside the box and have a go at some fundraising in your school or group. You might even find the real meaning of putting the “fun” in fundraising! Maybe you’re already doing something unique and inspiring – please share it with us if you are, we love a good story!
As for our cupcake entry, we’re waiting to hear if we have been chosen as the lucky winners (I’ll let you know!). If we have, I think we might be “Stepping up for Nature” for the RSPB in one of the tastiest ways possible. What is it they say about having your cake....?
The RSPB has some great facilities to enable young people get the most out of their education, whether they are educated at school or at home.
Our reserves are a great place to take your children to enable them to explore and learn about the natural world that surrounds them. Ian Wrisdale, one of our RSPB Wildlife Explorer group leaders, has some good suggestions if you’re out and about this Autumn helping your children to find out more about nature:
“Now is a great time to look for long-legged mini-beasts or daddy long legs. Depending on where you are and what you’ve seen, a daddy long legs could be either a spider, one of a curious group of arachnids (a group of animals which includes spiders and scorpions) known as harvestmen or more than likely, if it has wings, a cranefly. There is usually a mass emergence of craneflies at this time of year as the females look for damp areas of short grass in which to lay their eggs. “
Why not look here to see if there’s a Wildlife Explorer group near you?
“Unlike frogs and toads, newts tend to hibernate only a short distance from ponds and streams and will be starting to leave the water now. They will look for somewhere suitable to hibernate for the winter; perhaps under a log or stone. If you have a pond with newts and want to encourage them to hibernate in your garden, then keep an area of rough, long vegetation around your pond to provide them with somewhere to hide and shelter. Also leave piles of leaves, logs or even rubble near your pond. A compost heap also provides important food and shelter for hibernating newts. “
Our Wildlife Action Awards have lots of ideas and tips for creating your own homes for wildlife. These staged awards encourage children to find out about the natural world through a variety of activities and offer outside recognition of their achievements.
This year was a good one for hazel nuts, but most of them have already disappeared; eaten by small mammals. Look for the empty shells under the trees. By taking a close look at the shells it is possible to work out what has been eating the nuts. Squirrels tend to split the shells cleanly in two, whereas mice and voles tend to leave gnawed edges and teeth marks. With some practice and a good guide, you can even tell whether it was a mouse, vole or dormouse from the teeth marks.”
Our living classroom sites accept bookings from home ed groups, providing an expertly led programme catered for your needs. Find more information about our living classrooms here.
Take a look at this family’s blog, sharing a wonderful moment as a result of visiting one of our reserves.
If you think that sometimes the youth of today need a bit of inspiration to persevere when something becomes a little harder for them to achieve, especially in todays culture where instant results are expected, then show them this clip for a bit of motivation.
It just goes to show that everything comes eventually with a bit of hard work, and a little help from those around them that care.
Isn't nature amazing?
Should all children be given the right to access – and enjoy – the countryside? Here is an interesting short article suggesting just that, as well as talking about the many benefits we all know this brings.
However, while I am convinced that all children should have regular contact with nature, I am not sure that simply making this a right will ensure that it actually happens...
What do you think, and what else will help the next generation stay connected to the natural environment?
And if you are looking for ideas for discovering nature close to home – and how it is preparing for winter – why not join in our latest Wildsquare survey?
We'd love to hear what you are planning for your Big Schools' Birdwatch in January.
The event is fast approaching now, and we're sending lots of packs out to schools who have registered. If you haven't registered yet, you can do so here.
Maybe your class is going to build a bird hide, or perhaps you'll start feeding your birds early to ensure you have plenty of visitors on the day of your birdwatch. Perhaps you've developed a bird quiz, or you're going to extend the project by getting creative and producing a large scale bird collage with your students.
Whatever you're planning, however big or small, we'd love to hear about it on our Big Schools' Birdwatch forum.