A project aimed at encouraging schoolchildren to learn more about the countryside has been launched in Northern Ireland.

The Rural Learning Programme was launched by agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill this week.

The College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise’s (CAFRE) 2012 programme aims to stimulate interest in primary schoolchildren of the local environment and surrounding countryside.

The programme is delivered by the RSPB at CAFRE’s Trails at its Greenmount Campus and Enniskillen Campus.

Encouraging primary schools to participate, Mrs O’Neill said: “Through the Rural Learning Programme school children get to explore the countryside environment through curriculum-linked outdoor activities. “With hands-on investigations, from mini-beast safaris, discovering life in the pond, to woodland ecosystems, the world around is opened up for pupils.”

Being the only land-based college in the UK to have achieved Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) Marque status, CAFRE’s commitment to environmentally sound farming practices is reflected in this successful programme.

LEAF is an internationally recognised quality assurance scheme which promotes sustainable agriculture.

For more information about CAFRE’s Rural Learning Programme and the CAFRE Trails, call 028 6634 4853 for the Enniskillen Campus Trail and 028 9442 6705 for the Greenmount Campus Trail.