Education, training and awareness raising are key aspects of the work of the GFT. We work with all ages on a range of programmes.
Local primary schools across the region regularly undertake the GFT award winning project "Salmon In The Classroom". This project was started in Galloway by the GFT in 1991. Participating schools have a visit from a biologist who gives an informative talk about salmon, rivers and the work of the Trust. They are given a specialised classroom hatchery tank with 100 eyed salmon eggs. The children rear these eggs until returning them as unfed fry to their natal river. Later in the year GFT staff and the children return to the release site and watch GFT carry out electrofishing to recapture 'their' fish and to study the fish populations present. If local schools are to get involved in our work then we try to accommodate them and design new project ideas.
GFT also runs training programmes. In conjunction with the Barony College campus, both Introductory and Team Leader Electrofishing SVQ Courses are run in the early summer.
GFT staff give talks and presentations to a wide audience including angling clubs, District Salmon Fishery Boards, wildlife groups, rotary clubs, etc. We also attend and provide informative displays at a number of local agricultural shows and events.
Focussed seminars and workshops can be organised by GFT. Past examples include awareness raising of the threats of Gyrodactylus salaris and understanding the importance of considering genetics when planning stocking programmes.
GFT deliver the ‘Tongland Tour’ based at Tongland Power Station and Dam near Kirkcudbright. This tour is available to interested groups who wish to come and explore the amazing history of the Galloway Hydro Scheme, which has been in operation since the mid 1930’s. Part of the tour focuses on the operators efforts to overcome any negative impacts that the hydro scheme has on native biodiversity. Here we discuss developments in easing salmon, sea trout and eel passage at various parts of the scheme as well as managing water levels to protect plant and animal life surrounding Loch Ken.
GFT also provide opportunities for volunteers to undertake training and learn about our work. Volunteer training events are regularly held and individuals can come along and help with many aspects of field work.
As December is right around the corner, I am sad to say that my internship here at GFT is nearly over. However, I am grateful for my experiences at the trust and there is still plenty for me to get up to before it does come to a close.