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Stackyard News May 09

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Country Classroom at 2009 Children's Countryside Day

Meeting an Anglo-Saxon quarrying family; seeing houses made of straw and horse beds made of pine; fly casting, pheasant rearing and dry stone walling.

Children's Countryside Day

These are just some of the activities that 1500 first school pupils from Northumberland and North Tyneside will see and interact with at the 2009 Children's Countryside Day on June 4th. Organised by the Glendale Agricultural Society (GAS), the day aims to teach children from 40 schools about rural issues by getting involved and at times literally getting their hands dirty.

The Glendale Agricultural Society, one of the smallest in the country, is passionate about educating the young. Concerned that today's children don't know what life is like in the country, they decided to connect the countryside to the curriculum. Over the last four years, they have educated in the region of 5000 children from urban and rural schools on the importance of preserving the countryside and its way of life. Each year they have chosen a specific theme for schools to research prior to their visit and this year the chosen topic is Climate Change.

Commenting on this year’s event Johnny Renner, Chair of the Children’s Day Committee, said: "This is the fifth time that children in the North East have had the opportunity to experience the process of food production and rural life and as always we hope it will be another huge success. This year we are introducing information on the environmental effects of climate change and how rural based industries are preparing to adapt to it.”

The drive and passion of the small number of volunteers having touched the thoughts of a large number of children throughout the North East, even though the staff are working on an ever constricting budget.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support. We are extremely grateful to the businesses from across the region who sponsor the event to ensure its future through funding, to the organisations who come to educate the children and to the volunteers who give up their time to help on the day."

The day is free for the pupils and funded by the Society and its sponsors. Each year volunteers from nearly 50 of the North East's rural businesses come to the Wooler Show field free of charge to tell the children about what they do. A highlight in the region's school calendar – there are no holes barred - the children learn about the nice, e.g. young chicks, carriage driving, pheasant chicks and machines and the necessary e.g. butchering a lamb, milking a cow and plucking a chicken.

The idea is that children learn new skills through interactive demonstrations while meeting the people who make the countryside what it is today. For the first time this year pupils will have chance to meet an Anglo Saxon Family and find out what life used to be like in a Northumberland quarry thousands of years ago. There will also be chance to try out some 21st century style blasting as well as learning why quarries make such good sites for biodiversity.

In a programme that reflects every diverse aspect of country life, other activities on offer include milking cows, auctioneering livestock, sheep shearing, carriage driving, laying roads with Tarmac, making horse beds with wood shavings, tree planting, hunting with hounds, blowing a hunting horn and handling a gun dog.

For more information about the Glendale Agricultural Society and the 2009 Children's Countryside Day, visit

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