Katrina Preston is the Engagement Manager for Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and manages all family engagement for the Trust.
This covers; multiple WildPlay outreach community projects (inspiring play in local green spaces, engagement in nature and promotes healthy and sustainable living), forest school programs, wildlife educational workshops for local youth groups, school curriculum linked environmental sessions, weekly nature tot groups, nature inspired craft workshops and sessions and wildlife watch groups. Most recently a wellbeing garden project working closely with Herefordshire Mind for adults looking to improve their mental health. I work closely with other local organisations, charities, town councils, housing associations, the Military of Defence and children centres to reach the wider community of Herefordshire.
I began working for the Wildlife Trust 11 years, in 2008 I started working as a causal sessional worker for the Trust. I then applied for the first full time job that became available as a Nature Play Ranger. For the first 5 years, my work focused out in social deprived and rurally isolated communities, inspiring play in nature, as well as supporting supervised risky play such as climbing trees, building dens and cooking on campfires! In 2012 a new exciting project launched called ‘WildPlay Experience’ funded by big lottery, during the three years of the project I was able to develop my skills and qualifications in adult teaching. I began to teach as an associated trainer via Gloucester University – Playwork Partnerships, training other adults in accredited Playwork courses. Training new people in Playwork has been able to continue via another Big Lottery funded project ‘Building Better Opportunities’, supporting adults looking to get back into work. I have had the pleasure of meeting and training over 120 people in the last 7years. Alongside this 2016 I was promoted to managing the whole engagement team, overseeing all of our work with children, young people and families. Over the last three years we have built up to a diverse team of staff made up of playworkers, forest school leaders, teachers, early years specialists, musicians and a play therapist. Play is as fundamental to child development, as food and water.
Outdoor play and opportunity for children to connect to nature is increasingly critical to the wellbeing of both the next generation and the earth we live on.
In the words of Sir David Attenborough
‘No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.’
All of my work; for the past 11 years and what I will always continue to do, will be to advocate the importance of play, and help children develop a love for nature that grows, as they do.
Katrina Preston Engagement Manager email firstname.lastname@example.org