A national park will launch a service to encourage teenagers to become ‘junior rangers’.
The Lake District National Park Authority has appointed its first leader to head the scheme, which will begin in the autumn.
Ruth Kirk, an outdoor and environmental education graduate from Shap in Cumbria, has begun work to plan a programme of activities starting in October.
National park learning coordinator Anne Blackburn said: “This new role involves giving the youngsters opportunities every month to learn and to take responsibility for their actions in a safe and supportive environment in a variety of tasks.
“I’m delighted with Ruth’s appointment and I’m sure she will be an excellent choice and an inspiring leader.”
Ms Kirk added: “I am really excited to be getting involved in such an inspiring project. It’s a wonderful chance for young people to learn new skills, make new friends and have lots of fun into the bargain.
“And it’s also a fantastic opportunity for me to work with the younger generation to help them learn about how we look after our beautiful national park. I’m sure I will get as much out of it as they do.”
The young ranger scheme will be open to 14- to 18-year-olds and is being supported by United Utilities, a major landowner in the Lake District and which is providing £10,000 over the next two years. The company is also offering training to recruits, who will be able to work hand-in-hand with staff on the firm’s estates.
UU’s head of sustainability Chris Matthews said: “This is a really great programme for enthusiastic young country lovers.
“The land we own around our Thirlmere and Haweswater reservoirs accounts for about eight per cent of the national park area and, as custodians, we work hard to manage it well, not just for the benefit of water quality but also for biodiversity and visitor access.
“We can’t wait to work with Ruth and the young people she recruits.”
David Emery, who has an HNC in countryside and environmental management, will help Ms Kirk in her role.
Potential recruits can register their interest with the national park authority.