Would you like to get to know your local wildlife and landscapes better? Are you interested in getting your school or group involved in more nature-based learning, but are not sure what critters, plants and habitats are in your local area? Or would you like to include illustrations of your local wildlife and place in your next activity sheet, lesson plan, brochure or fundraising product? I can help!
These days, kids and adults are spending less time outdoors, and more time sitting on our behinds and staring at screens. This is not good for our physical health, and can also lead to feelings of isolation and emptiness. Studies show that kids learn better when they are outdoors and in nature, and adults report feelings of greater contentment and better mood after spending time in nature. In Australia we are often still relatively close to nature, so the opportunities to get outdoors and interact with nature are likely to be nearby, perhaps as close as the local park, schoolyard or your own backyard.
Having a simple experience of nature is an excellent way to start – such as taking a walk in the park, a paddle down a stream, or a day at the beach. But if you took the time to actually get to know some of your nature neighbours – those plants and animals and habitats that share your local area – this will greatly enrich your enjoyment of the outdoors, and your connection to place.
Many people are interested in nature-based play and learning, or more outdoor adventures, or incorporating local nature into lessons and activities for schools and groups. But sometimes it can be hard to get started, especially if there is no-one to provide a friendly and simple introduction to your local wildlife and habitats. This is where I come in.
I’d love to get more people better connected to their local nature and place, and I have a unique mix of skills to do this. Along with a passion for teaching, these include a good knowledge of Australian wildlife and habitats; a strong background in ecology, zoology, botany and wildlife conservation; the ability to create a wide range of wildlife illustrations to suit different purposes, and the ability to explain complex ecological ideas through simple, fun explanations and stories. I provide a range of different services to help groups and individuals get better connected to local nature:
Workshops, rambles and talks
These sessions enable participants to reconnect with nature through drawing and writing, and in this way create their own unique nature journal. I introduce the ecology of the site, and teach simple exercises to improve powers of observation and unlock the imagination while out in nature. These tools can be applied in the future to any drawing or writing project. Each participant also receives a free print copy of Make a Date with Nature.
Take a bunch of kids out in nature with pencil and paper, and their natural curiosity. Add enthusiasm and excitement, plenty of facts and stories about what we find, a few laughs, some drawing and writing instruction, and many discoveries – big and small. The result is kids who can’t stop drawing, writing, and exploring – in the outdoors, and having lots of fun at the same time.
‘Reading the landscape’ rambles or talks – older kids and adults
Ever wondered what nature used to live in your local area, or on your schoolyard or property, and what critters, plants and habitats still survive there today? Using existing landmarks, trees, wildlife signs and other clues I’ll show you how to read your local landscape for the stories of past land use and present-day ecology. These sessions apply the approach used by Tom Wessels (USA, Reading the forested landscape) to south east Queensland, and further afield. I can also present the same information for your local area as an illustrated presentation or as a report (see below).
Colouring sheets, activity sheets, books and illustrations – inspired by, and including, local nature
Local species colouring sheet
A colouring sheet of local species including common and scientific names. You nominate the list of species for me to include, or I can compile a snapshot of species from your local area. I can further tailor this to your needs by including any additional banners or text required (e.g. lesson details, school name, contact details, overall message, etc.).
Species in the landscape colouring sheet
A beautiful and detailed black and white illustration of species in the landscape that doubles as a colouring and ‘find-it’ sheet. This type of illustration also looks great on calico bags. You nominate the list of species, features, habitats, etc, for me to include, or I can come up with a list of species from your local area, in the setting of your choice.
The colouring book format is a great way to generate interest in nature, increase familiarity with local species, and convey environmental messages. Highly detailed illustrations can be used as ‘find-it’ quests, as well as for colouring in. I can create anything from simple, cute, cartoony pictures to highly detailed, realistic illustrations – or a mixture of both. I can also manage all aspects of book production if required, including layout and design, production of electronic and print formats, publishing, printing and delivery to your door.
Wildlife spotter cards
Play spot the species in your schoolground or local park! Each card is a guide to identifying species using simple and appealing colour illustrations. Species are depicted in comparable poses, and with distinguishing features enhanced for easier identification. You nominate the list of species for me to include, or I can compile a suitable list of species from your local area. These sheets are similar in concept to this Bee Detective Guide produced by the Surrey Wildlife Trust.
Local nature / Reading the landscape report – for your local area, school or property
A comprehensive report of your local nature, past and present, based on a detailed site inspection, plus analysis of relevant datasets and map layers. This report will provide an excellent starting point for planning nature play activities, nature-based lessons, nature studies, and also environmental projects such as wetland and bushland rehabilitation. Each report includes:
- lists of plant and animal species observed, or likely to occur on the site (native and introduced)
- regional vegetation types and broad vegetation groups (both present and what would have grown on the site before clearing)
- wetlands and wetland types
- landform types
- existing landmarks that can be used to ‘Read the landscape’
- Ecological interactions observed on site, e.g. butterfly host plants, bird food plants, etc.
- Notable species and habitats of conservation significance, or other interest
- a map indicating the location of observed features
Additional information can also be provided on request, e.g. habitat or species management guidelines; plant lists for revegetation, guidelines for construction and placement of nest boxes, bee homes, etc.
Arrange a no-obligation meeting and quote
Please contact me using the form below if you’d like to arrange a free, no-obligation meeting and quote for any of these services, or would like to request a copy of my cv. Inquiries from outside the south east Queensland area are most welcome, but these may attract an additional travel fee.