The Shieling Project

Bringing the Highland landscape alive for young people and teachers

Who is involved with the Project

The Shieling Project has a big community which helps it run: from staff, directors and local community, to funders and founders, and you of course.

Project Staff:

me BiogDr Sam Harrison (Manager) is a specialist in place-based education. He has been leading outdoor learning in Scotland for ten years, and takes a lot of joy from going out into land with school groups. Sam has a wide variety of training and qualifications ranging from outdoor leadership qualifications, to an MSc in Human Ecology and a PhD in Place-Based Education. Sam helps young people and teachers explore their relationship to the places where they live. For him, these experiences link to the sustainability of the land and community, a sense of pride and responsibility, and increased mental and physical well-being. Taken as a whole this can be called a ‘sense of place.’ Sam uses various strategies to bring ‘place’ into young people’s lives: working with schools to develop their capacity to learn outdoors, involving the community and the local environment, running training courses for teachers, and contributing to research and policy development in ‘Learning for Sustainability’.

Rachel pic Rachel Butterworth (Food Education Officer) has a background in politics, music, conservation and food education. After gaining her degree in Music and Politics from the University of Southampton, Rachel worked for the Department for Education in London for two years and moved to the Scottish Highlands in 2010. There, she worked as an Iron Age re-enactor and later trained as a conservation ranger. Rachel is interested in ‘care crofting’, where vulnerable adults are given the opportunity to work on crofts. Rachel’s passion for education has been at the heart of all her work, and she is one of Nourish Scotland’s first ‘Food Leaders’ and also a qualified Woodland Activity Leader. Since 2014, Rachel has led food education projects across Scotland and been a crofter on the northwest coast.

Morag McDonald (Gaelic Education Officer) is a qualified youth worker with many years’ experience of working with young people in a range of settings in Edinburgh, Midlothian, the Borders and the Highlands. As a trained Forest School Leader and Basic Expedition Leader Morag has been involved in delivering outdoor learning and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions over a considerable number of years. Brought up in Nairn but with strong ancestral connections to Strathglass where her father’s people belonged, Morag is thrilled to be adding a Gaelic language dimension to the project. A Gaelic learner, Morag was drawn to deepen her connection to the language through hillwalking in the Highlands and through Gaelic song and completed a year’s studies at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in 2011.

Project Directors:

shieling hut

Sam Harrison – see above

jeanJean Langhorne is a trustee of a small educational trust, called Speygrian, which explores and promotes creative approaches to experiential outdoor learning and provides catalysts for change at both a personal and a professional level, by bringing new perspectives to the relationship we have with the natural world. Jean has a particular interest in psychological approaches to engaging people with the issues around climate change. She is a professional facilitator and a Designated Trainer for the Carbon Conversations Course, which is a programme working with values-based change methods to help participants understand their personal connection to environmental problems. She is presently studying for a Masters degree in Environment, Culture and Communication with Glasgow University’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies.

karenKaren Marshall is a BSc graduate of Glasgow University in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry. She found earlier degree courses in Environmental Chemistry and Archaeology very inspiring.  Karen studied teaching through Strathclyde University and has taught secondary school Science and Chemistry in the Highlands since 2007.  A passion for change to the purpose and pedagogy of education has led to further studies in the field of Environmental Education and Karen is now currently studying for a MSc in Learning for Sustainability.  This theme links global citizenship, environmental education, outdoor learning, health and well-being and educational for sustainable development.

 Advisory Group:

Our Advisory Group provides ad hoc advice and support in our various areas of work.

Professor Hugh Cheape has devised and teaches a postgraduate programme, MSc Cultar Dùthchasach agus Eachdraidh na Gàidhealtachd (‘Material Culture and Gàidhealtachd History’), at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture. He holds a Research Chair in the University of the Highlands and Islands. The MSc has grown out of his curatorial and ethnological work during a career in the National Museums Scotland (1974-2007) where latterly he was a Principal Curator in the Department of Scotland and Europe. He has researched and published in the subject fields of ethnology and musicology, including studies in Scottish agricultural history, vernacular architecture, piping, tartans and dye analysis, pottery, charms and amulets and talismanic belief.

robertRobert Livingston was born and educated in Glasgow, and has been resident in the Highlands since 1994. Robert has over 40 years’ experience of delivering and developing the arts, and has a particular interest in the roles of the arts and culture in tackling wider social issues.  For 20 years he was Director of HI-Arts, the cultural development agency for the Highlands and Islands. He now divides his time between his home in Kirkhill, and Edinburgh, working part-time as Director of Regional Screen Scotland (which, among other remits, operates the Screen Machine mobile cinema), and running his own cultural consultancy, Kirkhill Associates.

pamPam Rodway has worked in organic farming and earth-based teaching since she left the University of Edinburgh in the early 1970s. On her journey she has met many very inspiring people, including Lady Eve Balfour, Wendell Berry, Carlo Petrini and Satish Kumar, working in education, voluntary social work, food campaigning and agriculture. Pam believes the most exciting and creative experiences happen when these aspects of our lives are linked. Organic farming, small-scale dairying and good food have always been at the heart of Pam’s life nurturing her family and the wider circles in which she has lived for many decades. Pam has worked for Soil Association Scotland since 2003, and currently manages Crofting Connections, which works to bridge the gaps between children and young people and their crofting communities and heritage. This work includes schools growing, harvesting, cooking and eating traditional and contemporary vegetables, fruit and cereals from the croft garden, as well as celebrating crofting culture, and looking forward to a vibrant future for crofting.

brianBrian Wilkinson is an archaeologist with a special interest in community engagement, heritage learning and interpretation. He is currently employed as Scottish Activity Officer on the Britain from Above project at the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, and previously worked on the Scotland’s Rural Past community archaeology project at RCAHMS. This saw him investigating historic rural settlements with schools and volunteer groups across the length and breadth of Scotland, and gave him a wealth of experience in engaging audiences with historic rural life through survey, recording and interpreting the archaeological remains of farming communities. Brian runs a freelance consultancy specialising in historic environment education, is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and a director of Archaeology Scotland.

Julie bioJulie Wilson leads nationally on the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence through outdoor learning and play and on the formation of guidance for teacher education and professional learning in the outdoors. Julie has wide-ranging experience of working across sectors, agencies and organisations and in building strong and sustainable partnerships. She founded the National Network for Outdoor Learning and Play, was chair of Scottish Government’s National Implementation Group for Outdoor Learning and Play and continues to facilitate a range of professional learning communities in outdoor and environmental education. Julie was a key member of the One Planet Schools Ministerial Group and of the writers group that produced the Learning for Sustainability report and recommendations. She is a member of the UNDESD CLD Ministerial Implementation Group and continues to work closely with the General Teaching Council for Scotland on developing Learning for Sustainability within the new standards for teachers and education leaders. Julie was the lead author of the ‘Going Out There’ guidance, which is the Scottish Framework for Safe Practice on Offsite Visits. Julie presently works as Head of Education for Scotland’s environmental charity: Keep Scotland Beautiful.

Community, Funders and Founders:

The project is in partnership with:

The Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET)

Education Scotland

The Belladrum Estate and the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival

We have also benefited from support, advice and feedback from experts at:

The Highland Folk Museum

Historic Environment Scotland

The Shieling Project is based on the Struy Estate, where we are very fortunate to have the support of the Spencer-Nairn family and the award winning eco-tourism business Eagle Brae.


We are a social enterprise. The project is a not-for-profit organisation and our community impact is monitored on a yearly basis. That means we charge for our services but all that money goes into running the project.  During our start-up phases we are relying also on funding and donations, so far we have gathered funding support from:

The Big Lottery Fund


Highlands and Islands Enterprise


The Heritage Lottery Fund

Heritage lottery fund

The Crerar Hotels Trust

crerar hotels trust

Tescos Bags of Help

Bags_For_Help_LogoTesco has teamed up with greenspace scotland to launch its Bags of Help initiative in Scotland. The scheme will see three community groups and projects in each of these regions awarded grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 – all raised from the 5p bag charge. Bags of Help offers community groups and projects in each of Tesco’s regions across the UK a share of revenue generated from the five pence charge levied on single-use carrier bags. The public will now vote in store from 27 February until 6 March on who should receive the £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 awards.



SSE Highland Sustainable Development Fund

The Hugh Fraser Foundation

The People’s Postcode Lottery

Scotmid Community Grants

scotrail   ScotRail Foundation managed by Foundation Scotland




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