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A People and Wildlife Placement with Avon Wildlife Trust

Posted: Tuesday 19th September 2017 by WildBlog

By Katherine Morgan

I have always found being surrounded by nature very soothing. Having grown up in Pembrokeshire, beautiful landscapes and wildlife experiences were all around me and so connecting with nature continues to be an important aspect of my life.

I began volunteering with Avon Wildlife Trust in 2015 with the Wildlife Action Group. Every Wednesday I would meet the group, pack the mini bus with the tools before heading out to one of the many nature reserves around Bristol. The practical tasks were really valuable teamwork experience and it was rewarding to see the progress we could make in such a short space of time. Typical tasks would be scything, cutting back brambles, coppicing, reed cutting, but could also include any maintenance on the site such as dry stone walling and step building. The task leaders and group of volunteers are so friendly and knowledgeable I would highly recommend joining them. During my time with the group I attended training days such as fungi identification, great crested newt surveying and I achieved a 3 year outdoor first aid certificate. All of which were invaluable to building on my knowledge and skills in the wildlife sector.

There are lots of different ways to volunteer with the trust, and when a volunteer placement was advertised I knew that it was something I wanted to do. I started the People and Wildlife Placement in January this year, working with Nicole (the People and Wildlife Officer) with three Bristol City Council sites. I am learning so much about the wider range of work that Avon Wildlife Trust do for people and their local green spaces, and how to connect and engage them with nature. It is useful to see the steps needed to create links within communities, by contacting organisations that are established in those areas and finding how we can work with them to plan and run events.

The variation of tasks that I have undertaken for this placement have been so beneficial in giving me experience in areas I hadn’t really had a chance to explore before and use skills that I already have alongside this. After assisting Nicole with the planning and delivery of events, I had the chance to take the helm at a community picnic near Stockwood Open Space. It was great being trusted with such a task and Nicole was really helpful and encouraging which gave me the confidence to undertake the event. It was a big event run by the local children’s centre with many other organisations involved and I was there to represent Avon Wildlife Trust. I became quite involved with Stockwood through attending monthly meetings with residents, local groups and businesses and there was definitely a need for more community events and so I was really happy to be able to be a part of it. I wanted to have a few activities that families could dip in and out of as there was so much to do on the day. It was also important to go into Stockwood Open Space with local people and highlight it as a great place to experience wildlife, so I planned a nature walk from the community centre where we did some bug hunting. This is always such a popular activity and it was great to see so many families getting excited about their findings and working out the type of mini beast they had found. This was great for increasing my confidence interacting with the public in this way and running an event.

As well as events there are so many other things I did while on the placement. Another one of the sites, Salt Marsh Drive Open Space has been fantastic for events and running them in conjunction with Lawrence Weston Community Farm nearby. To encourage families to explore Salt Marsh Drive I made a hand drawn map to show the routes that can be taken around the space as it could be quite intimidating not being aware of where the route leads, and the maps have proven very popular. Another great achievement was writing an article for Avon Wildlife Trusts column in the Bristol Post about my experience of spotting otters and other regular writing opportunities. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time volunteering at Avon Wildlife Trust, and as I am relocating it is sadly coming to an end. It has given me some fantastic opportunities and strengthened my passion to continue building on my knowledge and experience in the wildlife sector and I am sure I will keep building on this in future. It’s been fun!

If you would like to volunteer with Avon Wildlife Trust visit: http://www.avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/volunteer

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