Tree Sparks is a social enterprise with the drive to increase 15-19-year-olds awareness of forestry and environmental careers. We aim to do this by running in situ interactive workshops in schools utilising Virtual Reality technology to help bring forestry careers alive in the classroom. This makes our workshops extremely versatile as they can run in any location, enabling them to meet the needs of a more diverse range of groups.

We aim to also run and curate an online platform full of resources including links, quizzes and videos to help kickstart young people’s forestry careers. Finally, we want to create a resource pack aimed at parents and career advisors to dispel the myths surrounding forestry and demonstrate that environmental careers are viable and hugely rewarding. Tree Sparks also wants to support current forest and environmental students at the start of their career by providing opportunities to work within a small start-up business and develop transferable skills such as public speaking and social management.

There are currently several environmental education initiatives in the UK which work to increase young people’s awareness of the environment and provide valuable opportunities for school children to learn about woodlands and the environment in an outdoor setting. However, these programmes are only aimed at primary school children and are also inaccessible for many schools which are not located close to woodlands/own their own ‘natural’ outdoor space.

Tree Sparks wants to work with 15-19-year-olds to not only increase their environmental awareness like other initiatives but to also demonstrate that careers in forestry and the environment are both viable and hugely rewarding. Due to the nature of our workshops, we are able to run these in practically any location allowing us to reach a wider audience and to limit the disruption to teaching and learning time. Tree Sparks’ service also has a more continued contact time with young people.

After running an interactive workshop session, young people will be provided access onto our online platform where they can learn more, ask questions and connect with other people interested in pursuing a career in the environment! We do not see ourselves as being in direct competition of these other initiatives, but instead, see the service that we provide as a progression from these other programmes.

We are also the first enterprise which wants to actively involve current students in the running of our service – we believe that some of the best people to inspire the next generation of foresters are those that have just started theirs. Students are typically young, energetic people, who are easier for young people to connect with, instead of professionals that have had a long career.