Workshops & Projects
Fungi in Schools Project
Justin Smith Foundation continues the mission to heighten the importance of Fungi being included in the school curriculum as they have long been neglected and taught little in school and earth sciences. Dr Linda Davies, from the Fungal Education and Outreach Committee of the British Mycological Society agrees with this. Read her article ‘Putting fungi at the heart of student learning’ here.
In partnership with Avon Wildlife Trust and led by Learning Development Officer Lucy Hellier, October 2019 saw our first step realised when Year 7 students from Bristol Metropolitan Academy and local Fairfield High School Science Club visited AWT’s inspiring six-acre wildlife gardening hub, Grow Wilder (formally Feed Bristol), to learn more about the fascinating world of fungi. Each school group spent a day doing fungi-related experiments, going on a fungi foray, learning interesting fungi facts and discussing their influences on the world around us.
The success of this pilot project and the enthusiasm shown by the pupils taking part has enabled further development of the scheme. It wasn’t possible to run it again in 2020 due to Covid-19, however we were full steam ahead with Bristol Metropolitan Academy and Fairfield High School students again in Autumn 2021 and 2022. Please read the 2021 Report Summary to find out what they thought of their experience.
If any secondary schools in or near Bristol would like to take part in future projects please register your interest by contacting the Learning Development Team at Avon Wildlife Trust.
In 2022 Oxford Cambridge & RSA (OCR) announced that their plans to introduce a GCSE in Natural History have been approved by the Department for Education (DfE). Read their announcement here.
Fungi Forays and Workshops
We’ve been very busy since the Foundation was created. Our very first Fun Fungi Day was held on Monday 24 October 2016 with the help of fungi experts Joe McSorley (worked at Avon Wildlife Trust) and Rich Wright (Forever Fungi) who led twenty young adults, mostly Bristol University students, on a fascinating journey learning all about fungi. They explored the beautiful surroundings of Folly Farm in the Chew Valley, identifying an impressive 60 different species of fungi between them. Bristol Naturalists’ Society kindly helped fund our first project.
Our second Identifying Fungi workshop was held at Grow Wilder (formally Feed Bristol) on Sunday 7 May 2017. It was a free workshop for budding young mycologists, aimed at beginners and those who already knew the basics about fungi identification and included microscope work.
In April 2019 we supported fungi expert Rich Wright from Forever Fungi on a 3-day Fungi Under the Microscope workshop held at Charterhouse Outdoor Centre in the Quantocks. The residential course covered microscope work, spore print analysis, forays, open sessions and lectures with guest speakers Brian Douglas from Kew Gardens and Emma Williams from the Glamorgan Fungus Group.
UK Fungus Days
UK Fungus Day events are held annually in Bristol when visitors have access to Justin’s extensive library of fungi publications, offering the chance to purchase, learn more about the ‘Forgotten Kingdom’ and donate to the charity. Other useful Fungi resources like identification books, swatch books, hand lenses and notebooks are also avilable. Get in touch to find out more.