Countryside Learning Officer appointed

CDE_KatePonting_-6Children and communities across East Devon will be able to learn more about their rural environment and how it’s managed thanks to the appointment in November 2014 of the first Countryside Learning Officer for Clinton Devon Estates and the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust. 

Teacher Kate Ponting has recently taken-up the new role and will be delivering countryside learning activities to primary and secondary school pupils as well as community groups and the wider public.

The Countryside Learning Officer post was developed by Clinton Devon Estates to improve general awareness and appreciation of the countryside along with an insight into farming, forestry, wildlife conservation and rural landscape management. 

Kate, a  primary school teacher of 13 years with and, more recently, an education leader with Exmouth Forest School and the Exeter-based Fun Kitchen said: “Although most children have a pair of wellies, not all of them have the opportunity to put them on to really explore the countryside and its hidden treasures. We can show them where their food comes and explain how trees are grown to produce timber for furniture, fuel, building and even the paper they write on. 

 “Teachers are often   organise educational trips into the countryside but this is where we can support the curriculum for both primary and secondary school pupils.”

As well as her work with young people, Kate will also engage with local community groups to help explain the work of Clinton Devon Estates and the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust in supporting wildlife and maintaining the landscape.

Kate explained: “People need to understand that the countryside isn’t just a beautiful backdrop   for leisure time. Its management is complex and involves many people working incredibly hard to ensure it’s productive, resilient to climate change and forest disease and providing for  future generations.”

John Varley, Estates Director for Clinton Devon Estates and trustee of the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust said: “Our outreach work with local schools and communities over many years has focused mainly on the environment and the Pebblebed Heaths and is supported by a website, public talks, events and a primary schools education programme. This new post will allow us to expand on this important work and inform people on other areas of countryside management work including organic farming, renewable energy production and developing sustainable rural communities.”  

Kate Ponting’s work will also involve reinforcing important links with local authorities and conservation partners to further improve awareness and understanding of the countryside and its potential for future generations.

To contact Kate Ponting, Countryside Learning Officer, to discuss  a programme or event  for your school or community group, please email

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