A Flatford-based teacher who fell in love with outdoor learning while counting barnacles on a school trip is now ensuring more children spend time in nature.

Jo Harris has embarked on a new journey as education manager at the Field Studies Council (FSC), after honing her outdoor learning skills over two decades.

The FSC operates 12 residential centres around the UK aimed at enhancing environmental education and coaxing people to reconnect with nature.

Jo, who worked at Flatford Mill, expressed concern about children missing out on valuable outdoor time due to Covid and the cost-of-living crisis.

Jo said: "It’s inherently important for children to be outside and connected to nature.

"It helps them in every part of their lives from confidence, team building skills, ability to make friends as well as their resilience and physical and mental health.

"The children coming to our centres now are not as connected to the environment and nature as they have been previously and that restricts every part of their life, not just their ability to write an essay or answer an exam question but their ability to be able to relax – everything is helped by being outside.

"My own interest in environmental education started on a field course at our former FSC Orielton site where I went for an A Level biology trip.

"We basically spent a week in the rain counting barnacles and measuring limpets.

"Whilst everyone else was not necessarily having the best time, I was loving it.

"I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do before that trip but then remember going home and telling my parents that I wanted to study marine biology - and that was it."

Jo has gone on to have an extensive career in outdoor education, including a stint at an activity centre on the Isle of Wight and education tutoring at the FSC's Orielton centre.

Appointed in December, Jo aims to fortify the FSC's employee training programmes among other targets.

Mark Castle, chief executive of the Field Studies Council, said: "I am delighted that Jo has taken on the role of education manager.

"I know she will do a fabulous job."