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Green Health in the Cairngorms National Park Junior Ranger Project

20th May 2022

By CNPA Countryside Ranger Pete Short

What is Green Health?

Green Health is all about people connecting to nature and the outdoors in whatever way brings them benefits for their health and wellbeing. In the Cairngorms National Park Junior Ranger programme we are always looking for ways to facilitate this.

Speyside High Junior Rangers out foraging on a Green Health Day.

The Cairngorms National Park Junior Rangers

The project is an exciting, fun and adventurous outdoor learning programme for young people aged 11–18 years, with monthly sessions running in both Badenoch & Strathspey and Deeside. We also run 5 day Junior Ranger weeks with high schools in and around the national park. It’s a collaborative project run by the family of ranger services across the area, meaning Junior Rangers get a chance to explore a wide variety of wild places across the Cairngorms, meeting lots of great people along the way.

Watching ducklings and dippers with Cairngorms Youth LAG funded binoculars. Watching wildlife is a great mindful activity.

We regularly check in with the junior rangers for insights and ideas on how we shape the programme going forward, so for Green Health Week, we asked them:

How does being in nature make you feel?

We got a brilliant 20 responses to our question, and there were some common themes. ‘Happy’ came up often, along with ‘Calm’, ‘Relaxed’ and ‘Healthy’. These words were input into a blank feedback form and entirely generated by the Junior Rangers themselves.

The junior ranger project encourages participants to make friends in the outdoors.
Canoeing down the Spey. An active day for the Kingussie Junior Rangers!

Our monthly Junior Ranger programme has been running since November 2021. So we wanted to know:

Has being a part of the junior ranger programme this year improved your Green Health? If so, how?

We didn’t want to pick from the responses we got back – so we have included them all below!

‘The exercise is good for me and being able to breath some clean air as opposed to stuffy air from indoors.’

‘I’ve only been to one, but that one was really fun and made me feel happy. Everyone was kind and I love being outside in nature.’

‘I love being outside and it makes me feel happy.’

‘Yes it has, it has made me appreciate the world around me.’

‘Yeah, its helped me understand stuff about nature a bit better.’

‘When you are outside for the day your sleep is better and your mind is peaceful.’

‘Being part of the Junior ranger has definitely help build my confidence around others and around taking part in things like using tools and equipment.’

‘Yes, because it’s fun & you feel good about doing something positive, it makes you sleep well at end of the day.’

‘Activities help take my mind elsewhere, meaning it is indirectly helping my mental health.’

‘Yes – even more reason to be out and about in the natural world.’

‘Yes. It feels good to contribute to protect nature- the junior rangers are enhancing my understanding.’

‘It makes me get outside in all weather.’

‘Yes – more time spent outdoors.’

‘Definitely! Because junior rangers has encouraged me to spend more time outdoors on my own, with my friends, and also with the new friends that I have met through the junior ranger programme.’

Taking time to appreciate nature through art. It helps a lot if it’s not raining!
Orienteering with the Speyside High Junior Rangers.

In summary…

We are thrilled that the junior ranger project is continuing to improve the green health of young people in and around the Cairngorms National Park and we can’t wait to see where this project leads in the future.

Thinking of the future, the project will always help any young person with an interest in employment in outdoor, practical or environmental jobs.

If you know someone 11-18 who lives locally and might like to join in with the Cairngorms National Park Junior Ranger project, all the joining information can be found by heading to or find our page on social media for updates:

Junior Rangers Facebook

CNPA Ranger Service Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

Deeside Junior Rangers looking for Purple Hairstreak eggs.
Practical conservation tasks are always popular.
Behind the scenes at the farm on Rothiemurchus.
Ant appreciation! Deeside & Speyside Junior Rangers getting together in Abernethy Forest.