For those who were unable to join us on 3rd September, here is the recording of our first ARG UK Autumn Seminar Series: Dragons in the Hills – Engaging with communities to conserve amphibians and reptiles in Northern Ireland, with thanks to everyone who contributed and participated in a magical evening.
Introduced by Darren Rice on behalf of our funders, The National Lottery Heritage Fund for Northern Ireland, the seminar opened with Therese Hamill our partner at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council who gave us some of the background to the project and how it came into existence. This was followed by our Dragons in the Hills project officer, Joshua Twining, who gave a mixed media presentation to introduce the project and tell us more about the amphibians and reptiles that can be spotted in the stunning landscapes of Newry, Mourne and Down in Northern Ireland, as well as how you can get involved. We then heard from many of other project partners and stakeholders including Rob Gandola at the The Herpetological Society of Ireland, Ryan Boyle at NI ARG, Michelle Baybutt who heads up our project evaluation team at the University of Central Lancashire. We then heard from our other local collaborators, including Maggie Finnegan from An Tobar, Padraig Carragher at Blue Bell Lane Glamping, volunteer, Ring of Gullion Ambassador and well-being expert Ann Ward, and Matthew Bushby from The Mourne Heritage Trust who told us how they are getting involved with the project - and how we are able to work with them to improve the habitat for amphibians and reptiles on their sites, as well as how we are engaging with new groups, including adults with disabilities, through the John Muir programme at An Tobar. Finally we heard from two local primary school teachers Paula Mulkern and Ciara Crawley who told us how their children responded to the online sessions we were able to run with them during the COVID-19 lockdown, but also an insight into some incredible new technology driven activities that are enabling children to explore their natural environment through smart phones and robots!
And our favourite part - the atmospheric aerial tour of the real stars of the evening, the stunning landscapes of the Ring of Gullion, The Mourne Mountains and Strangford Lough and Lecale - accompanied by the hauntingly beautiful song 'The Hills of South Armagh', sung by Colleen Savage, and accompanied on guitar by Padraig Carragher - a man of many talents!
(Images copyright Mabel Cheung Harris and Joshua Twining).
Please note this is an online event powered by Zoom. With thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund who have kindly sponsored our evening with the Dragons in the Hills project.