Local primary school pupils have taken on innovative new roles in ‘hospitality’ with the arrival of exciting Bug motels, courtesy of a major biodiversity project led by SGN Natural Gas.
The award-winning company designed and presented a sustainable Bug motel for every primary school in the network area – just in time for some new guests to check in for the summer holidays.
David Butler, Director of SGN Natural Gas, said the project team was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response from schools in all key towns in the network in the western area of Northern Ireland who welcomed the opportunity to become Bug motel ‘managers’.
Mr Butler explained that the SGN Natural Gas biodiversity campaign which includes woodland planting and community-based beekeeping initiatives, had the potential to make a hugely positive impact on our local natural environment.
He said: “In 2019 we launched an initiative that will see 7,000 trees planted in our network area by the end of 2022 and we have successfully completed our first year with a huge new ‘Plan Bee’ project that has included assisting 18 members of the public through a full beekeeping course. Income generated from producing local honey will go back in to making the project completely self-sufficient and sustainable with the potential to make a profound impact on the understanding of bees and their positive impact on our environment.”
Mr Butler added: “The Bug motels are proving to be a big hit with everyone involved in this project; they not only offer a sanctuary for insects such as ladybirds, bees, and spiders which are important to our environment, but also provide an ideal platform to learn about natural habitats and different types of invertebrates. I would like to thank each and every primary school principal, staff and all the pupils for supporting this new initiative and helping to make a difference for our ecosystems.”
Anne McGuinness, Principal at St Patrick’s Primary School in Coalisland, said: “Children learn best when they can see, handle and observe what they have helped construct. The fun our children have had while enhancing their skills of observation, recording and communicating through discussion and chatting about what they have found and discovered is the best classroom for environmental work ever!”
“The next generation of eco-warriors is beginning! They love to see what has been eaten, what has degraded over time and seeing what the little creepy crawlies like best to fill their rooms. It has been a joy that will continue into the years ahead.”
Brian Treacy, Principal at Holy Trinity Primary and Nursery School in Enniskillen, said they were also delighted to support the initiative. He said: "The ‘Motel’ has provided wonderful learning opportunities for the children and fits in so well with our ethos which promotes care for the environment and a respect for nature.”
Enniskillen Integrated Primary School Eco Co-ordinators, Una O’Donnell and Edel Leonard said: “The Bug motel is now pride of place in our school grounds. The Eco team researched, collected and added a range of materials that would suit the visitors to our Bug motel. Our Eco Schools programme has been an integral part of our curriculum for more than 10 years. During this time, we have been focusing on the topic of biodiversity as one of our major themes in preparation for our Green Flag award.”
“The Bug motel is positioned within range of our polytunnel, willow dome and garden area. It is suitably placed to attract a whole range of visitors. We will use it as part of our outdoor learning curriculum along with other Eco Schools activities. Children from nursery up to year 7 will be able to investigate and explore the many minibeasts and visitors to our Motel. It is open all year round – Covid or no Covid!”
Judith Allen, Eco-Coordinator at Strabane PS said: "Pupils from Strabane Primary School were delighted to receive their new Bug motel from SGN Natural Gas. The arrival of the Bug motel created great excitement amongst pupils, in addition to generating unique opportunities for outdoor learning."
"Pupils and staff worked collaboratively to gather a range of materials for the motel. Staff at New Horizons Garden Centre also helped to prepare and set up the motel in the school grounds. Members of the Eco-Committee used the materials to fill the motel in order to encourage mini-beasts and insects into the setting."
"Pupils have enjoyed visiting the Bug motel and are keeping an eye on the wildlife it attracts! The arrival of the bug motel has helped to increase biodiversity within the school grounds and has encouraged pupils to think about the importance of creating a sheltered habitat for insects and other creatures. We look forward to using our Bug motel in the year ahead and know that it will continue to provide valuable learning experiences within our school community."