Explorers education volunteers

If you love working with young people and enjoy being outdoors, why not join our enthusiastic team of Explorers education volunteers?

Explorers towpath visit in Leeds

"There are few things more satisfying than seeing a child's eyes light up when they learn something new and exciting."

Jackie Harris, volunteer

Join us as an education volunteer

We are looking for volunteers who love working with children and would like to encourage them to explore our canals and rivers – in schools, on the towpath, through our website, at waterside events or in museums.

Learning in the great outdoors is at the heart of it

Our education volunteers help children discover the magic of the waterways through our Canal & River Explorers programme. Volunteers lead sessions for primary schools, cub scouts and brownie groups both in their classrooms and out and about on our canals.

They show children how locks work, explain how a dragonfly larva hunts its prey, point out the rope marks under a bridge or just allow the children time to watch a coot feed its young. Through these visits our volunteers introduce a new generation of children to our canals and rivers - inspiring the enthusiasts of tomorrow.

Our education coordinators deliver hands-on training, providing the knowledge needed for working with children. Our volunteers can use a variety of resources, such as a water safety box with games and handling items, a build-a-canal-box with wooden models of bridges, buildings and boats, and a habitat box for teaching children about waterway wildlife.

Many of our volunteers are teachers or group leaders and bring their own skills, experience and knowledge to the role. Of course there is a strong social aspect as well – getting to know other volunteers, planning and leading sessions together and then discussing how it all went afterwards over tea and cake!


Man teaching group of children Lessons with an Explorers Education Volunteer

Where can I volunteer?

Explorers education volunteers are based at key locations including museums at Gloucester and Stoke Bruerne, canal settings such as Foxton Locks and Caen Hill Locks and urban canal environments such as Birmingham and London.

Here’s what our education volunteers say

Dave Hope volunteers on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal.

"I am participating in a programme of school days raising local children’s awareness of the canal. In the past I’ve collected stories from the older workers like Bill the lock keeper or Tom the lengthsman and from reading old papers in the library. With a bit of enthusiasm some of the tales enthral children whilst sheltering from showers under a bridge."

Jackie Harris volunteers at the National Waterways Museum in Gloucester.

"There are few things more satisfying than seeing a child's eyes light up when they learn something new and exciting - and imagine being the one to make that happen! The instant reward of working with children and seeing them get really absorbed in the activities is an obvious bonus!"

Here’s what schools taking part in Explorers activities say:

“I saw some canal boats go down the locks, it was so cool. When I went to see inside the canal boat I couldn't believe that six people could fit in the little room.”

Ottavia, Thistley Meadow School

“We could not praise the work and effort made by the volunteers highly enough. The visit to the local rivers and canals was perfectly timed and extensively explained to all children. We had a whole day out and walked a long way, but as well as being blessed with lovely weather; we were fascinated by the sights that Vicky had researched in depth to help explain. We would love to make this sort of educational visit a regular feature within our “Let’s Explore” programme of study and would recommend the Canal & River Trust to any school looking to find out about the local waterways. Thanks Explorers!”

Adrian Smith, Freshford School

Last date edited: 13 September 2021