Across June and July, we carried out six week-long placements that gave students an insight into what it’s like to work for the trust and the many different career paths on offer. This wasn’t your average office based work experience. Together, the students took part in a huge variety of different tasks that aimed to develop new skills, build confidence, improve wellbeing and learn more about nature, environment and wildlife and the problems they are facing.
We travelled across the region of Bristol, Bath, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire to many different nature reserves to help our Land Management team carry out practical conservation work. We got our hands dirty clearing foliage, removing tree guards, and building steps to improve access to the reserves all during the glorious full of range of British summer time weather! Being out on our reserves meant we also got plenty of opportunities to discover lots of great wildlife. Some of my highlights included lots of butterflies, huge crickets, sleepy newts, beautiful orchids, strange fungi and the very friendly grey squirrels of Brandon Hill. Whilst bug hunting at our Feed Bristol urban nature reserve, we also found a patch of large patch full of four-leafed clovers which got everyone very excited!
As well as getting involved on our reserves, the students had the opportunity to plan and develop their own projects over the course of the week allowing them to work as team, share ideas and unleash their creativity. The young people completed a wide range of different projects over the summer from creating artwork and campaigns to raise awareness about environmental issues, to building colourful sensory gardens, creating space for wildlife in school grounds and creating discovery trails for toddler groups. The students really enjoyed their projects over the week. Catie said her favourite part of the week was “making friends with the other students and working on our project together” and Jason said he learnt “how to cooperate in a team”. It was very rewarding to see the students share their ideas, watch them grow and develop their projects through from start to finish.
Since finishing their work experience, some of the students have come back to volunteer over the summer holidays in our young volunteers programme. They have continued helping out with the land management team carrying out practical conservation tasks on our nature reserves, improving their wildlife identification skills and sharing their ideas about events happening with the Avon Wildlife Trust.
Overall, the feedback was completely positive and showed that the students all reported feeling more connected to nature, more confident in what they could achieve and also took more notice of wildlife. The only things the students said they would change about the week was the unreliable weather! However, Sophie said “nothing would have made my week better” which I think shows the programme was a big success.
If you want to take part in the work experience programme here at the Avon Wildlife Trust or become one of our young volunteers, please head to our website for more information about all the opportunities we have coming up for young people.