Our Bright Future - Brad's Story

Our Bright Future - Brad's Story

Historically, most of the volunteers at Avon Wildlife Trust have been adults, giving their time and energy to help wildlife, enriching our work and their lives at the same time. But over the last 5 years, there’s been a shift. As a result of the efforts of the Trust’s Learning Team, people can go on a journey with us that takes them from toddlerhood to their 100th birthday. The Our Bright Future youth project has involved hundreds of young people aged 11 - 24 in the life of the Trust, as well as training them in conservation skills and helping them make friends they’ll keep forever. This is 16 year old Brad’s story.

Nestled in the heart of the city of Bristol is the Grow Wilder site, a haven for wildlife and a haven for people.  I love it there! Even though I was initially nervous about volunteering at the site, not knowing anyone, it was always so much fun. 

I love the abundance of wildflowers, an array of colours providing lives for pollinators of all kinds.  I love the grand trees full of birds; a stage for their beautiful songs.  I love the ponds in which fascinating creatures dart about, unique to their watery world.  I also love the team at Avon Wildlife Trust, with their friendly, enthusiastic attitudes and creative ideas. 

Perhaps my favourite experience was when we all went to Aardman Studios.  We worked all day on my first volunteer experience, transforming a pond for the better.  I even wore waders - it felt like the ‘real deal’!  We found all sorts of animals including newts, toads and frogs.    The bonuses kept on coming; free delicious meals in the café and a really cool tour of the studios. 

Another interesting experience with AWT was when we were searching through owl poo pellets.  Sounds disgusting, right? In reality, it was a really good way of learning about their diet. The bones we found were fascinating! 

Our Bright Future volunteers

Brad and friend getting their hands dirty! 

Probably my least favourite time (I say ‘least’, but it was still fun) was the occasion we went to check on our friendly and safe mammal traps - and found none!  It was disappointing, but it taught me nature is elusive. On the upside, we realised the reason the animals weren’t tempted by the treats in the traps was that it was a fabulously healthy habitat, with lots of food on site!

At Grow Wilder, the urban wildlife site in Stapleton, they sell all sorts of plants, ranging from those which are good for attracting bees to food crops.  After seeing these, I was inspired to do something in our garden, which backs onto the woods.  We have made two small nature areas, and this has attracted an amazing amount of wildlife.  We dug in two ponds we bought second hand and surrounded these with rocks and a variety of plants, shrubs and trees.  We also built a bug hotel out of sticks and bricks for insects and spiders and put a sheet of clear plastic and felt down to attract slow worms.  This project has been so rewarding as we have attracted newts, toads, frogs and slow worms. It’s unbelievable that such a small nature area could attract so much wildlife.   However, the fact that a small area like this one attracts so much life also makes me sad too, as I know our greedy world is taking away their homes. 

Our generation needs to change that. I’ve been inspired by Our Bright Future to pursue a career in conservation.  It has made me so passionate about nature and wildlife, and I’m determined to take A level Chemistry, even though I struggle in this subject. My dream is to write about nature, and spread the word!!   I’ve even got my friends involved.  We’ve erected two huge woodpecker poles, drilled holes in them and filled it with suet.  And, would you believe it: we attracted a lesser spotted woodpecker.  Who would have thought it! 

In summary, I can’t thank Our Bright Future enough – not only have you inspired me, but I have inspired my friends, and they’ll inspire their friends...and so on, until our future does indeed become brighter and brighter.