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Can people with learning difficulties be involved in field studies ?

Updated: May 3, 2019

Exploring What Matters - Scotty Johnson at Explore 2018

Explore 2018 is an expedition and field research weekend at The Royal Geographical Society; "This annual gathering of geographers, field researchers and explores is a key step in the planning process for many projects and it is a platform that can give you the confidence to run fieldwork that will really make a difference to yourself and others" ... These words were written in a welcoming pack that I received at the entrance to the RGS just a few weeks ago.

This event was packed with talks, workshops, lectures together with people that are interested in understanding our place in the rapidly changing world. It was fascinating to see and to listen to their findings.

I went to this event with a purpose; to find out how feasible can be an idea of getting people with learning difficulties involved in the enviromental field studies. In simple, long term data collections. That sort of data that researches can find monotonous, unvaried, repetitious, and tiresome , that sort of data that an autistic person can strive on when getting an opportunity to monitor them.

It was 42nd Explore weekend so far, you can just imagine how well set up the planning team is. After a few initial meetings with the main organiser Shane Winser, I was offered to participate at the Education panel this year. Such a great opportunity to scope out this possibility from the first hand. And, yes, people have been very interested to know more about the idea, mainly how practicable it can be for researchers with a busy schedule and little time to teach. It was exactly what I hoped for to hear !

Nervous sweaty hands before talking

On Sunday evening I was heading home, both inspired and informed - inspired to take forward the idea to undertake the involvement of people with learning difficulties in conservation work and environmental field studies and informed what is needed to be focused on when communicating and developing training programmes.

I am currently listing and contacting Sites of Special Scientific Interest ( SSSI )  in Milton Keynes area and fact-finding how people with learning difficulties can help and participate. Depending on the findings, specific training programmes will be developed and delivered through the outdoor service that I run alongside with my partner.

Some beautiful images - slideshow - from the weekend

Explore 2018 was a great weekend where new important contacts were made, new friends and connections established and some brilliant ideas shared.

If you have been reading this blog-post so far, I assume that you are interested, may I ask you a favour? Would you please share this post? And if you have some suggestions or knowing of some conservation project that is suitable for people with learning difficulties, please do let me know. Many Thanks Martina

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