Infothek Waldkinder: Dear Marina, your organisation is called “Circle of Life Rediscovery”, what do you think, should people discover more often in their “Circle of Life” again?
Marina Robb: The ‘Circle of Life’ reminds us that we are connected to everything and everything to us! A life journey begins with the baby time, then toddler, teenager, adult and elder. There is also a sense of equality in the symbol of circle - whatever your background, colour, gender, age and if you are human or non-human. I also experience the older I become, the less I know, which lends itself to a curious and open perspective and an enquirer of life. The more relationships we have the greater potential for us to find a fulfilling and meaningful life, a birth right that we all have access to.
For over 30 years you have been working as an environmental educator, trainer for Forest Schools and practitioners and co-founder of your organisation in England. Do you still enjoy doing a job as much as you did in the beginning? If so, why?
Yes, absolutely. It gets better and better the older I get. I think this is because I am growing in confidence that I can make a difference, in collaboration with others. I am very grateful that 30 years on, what was seen as ‘alternative’ is now mainstream and much more accepted. I think life is exciting and whilst I have energy, healthy family and friends, I find this work very fulfilling and satisfying. And I think we are just at a very important threshold of awareness, understanding and ways of working.
What would you recommend to people if they decided today to do a pedagogical training in nature?
I think this depends on who you are working with and the needs and interests of the person or group. I am very involved in Forest School Training in the UK and think this is a very thorough model of person-centred, nature connected work. But I am not attached to one model or one type of thinking. I think life creates learning and working about ourselves, being reflective practitioners is a necessary part of working with people. Spending time outdoors, is the sure way to feel the benefits and intrinsic values that arise from the natural world, then this is followed by practical skills and activities.
What do you see as the future of teaching nature education?
I hope that every school and curriculum includes play and learning with nature. I am also developing a mental health and nature training for parents, educators, health practitioners and young people. I am very committed to the bringing together of best practice from nature alongside our understanding of how we can be mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually well. Good education would always in my view include nature experience and the understanding of how to move through our difficulties.
Under the umbrella of your organisation, there is a wealth of offers for all ages. You do forest schools, adult education, projects and camps. What activities do you actively participate in?
I am directly involved in facilitating all the funded programmes with families with disabilities, young people with mental health issues, camps for targeted groups and the trainings we offer. I suppose I am now more skilled at working with vulnerable groups.
What is your heart project under your roof? What values do you want to convey?
Not sure what you mean! But my heart is with young people and families who struggle and I love working in nature with them as we all have such a good time! Well, most of the time! My values include integrity, love, collaboration and equality across the human and non human world.
You offer many offers with, for and around families. Why is it so important to you to integrate the families strongly into your projects?
I suppose we are resiliant when we are able to feel that we can share our experiences with people that care about us and belong somewhere. Our families or carers are so important to our well-being and learning. When we can bring the whole family together to have an experience the opportunity for change is fast-tracked and we can all see eachother in new and beneficial ways.
How many projects do you offer per year?
Over the last twelve months we have supported 1500 individuals with our services: 150 young people with mental health support needs, 220 with behavioural problems, 80 adults with mental health support needs and 180 families and carers supporting people with these conditions. We also provided professional training in education for outdoor learning, health and wellbeing interventions to 330 teachers, health and care professionals, each responsible for 20 -100 young people or adults with behavioural of mental health problems. Through direct (630) and indirect support we estimate that we had a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of over 12,000 people disadvantaged by mental health and challenging behaviour.
How many leaders work at Circle of Live Rediscovery?
1- 15 facilitators!
Do you offer internship days for interested people?
Yes and volunteering too.
As an organization, you yourself have offered an environmental award. What is this award all about?
We offer ‚The John Muir Award, which is a Nationally recognised Conservation Award – this is a simple process where young people explore a place, get to know it, and do something for the land, and share their experience. John Muir was one of the inspirations behind National Parks around the world, and had a troublesome youth.
You have written a book “Learning with Nature”. For which target group did you write this book?
We hoped it would be useful for nature practitioners, parents and educators – a how to guide with lots of ideas that promote learning and connection with nature.
What was the motivation for the book?
Making this work more accessible and providing good practice to spread. It is written by myself and two other friends and colleagues, who love the natural world and are experienced working with young people.
It is wonderful that you will participate in our conference “Naturekids worldwide hand in hand” in Zurich. What are you most excited and curious about?
I feel i am part of a wider international community so am looking forward to meeting and making new friends, learning what is happening in Switzerland and beyond, and maybe starting new collaborations!
Photos von Circle of Life
Editorial management: Christoph Lang, Nadja Hillgruber
Editorial design and implementation: Nadja Hillgruber, www.infothek-waldkinder.org
Picture credits: Photography © Circle of Life
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