Work Experience with Dorset Wildlife Trust
Ciara Askin aged 17 - a student at Sparsholt College
Starting March 17th I spent three weeks on a work placement with the Dorset Wildlife Trust based at Beacon Hill in Corfe Mullen. My first impression of the team was that they were very welcoming and friendly, which put me at ease and made my time with them more enjoyable.
For the first two weeks I was mostly involved with various work parties carrying out habitat management and burning the waste on a big fire. I gained lots of experience with fire starting and control which is beneficial to me because I’d like to go on to become a ranger, and part of the job involves being able to do these. I have also had the opportunity to practice some other skills, such as crosscutting awkward trees with a chainsaw, clearing paths with a brushcutter and fixing a broken fence at Troublefield.Working with the volunteers and local college and university groups was great because I didn’t realise before how habitat management and other practical tasks could be used to get so many people from different backgrounds involved in conservation and how being outdoors and doing an activity can really benefit people, such as giving retired people something to do and helping mentally ill people get better.
Ciara Askin using a chainsaw on Upton Heath
The main habitat around East Dorset is heathland, which is very rare and special. While working with the Dorset Wildlife Trust I have seen a female adder, two greater spotted woodpeckers and a sundew, all of which I had never seen before. I have also learned from the Urban Heaths Partnership that loads of heath fires are started every year and their goal is to raise awareness of heathland crimes and to educate people on how important and rare heathland is.
Overall, my time with the Dorset Wildlife Trust was a fantastic experience and I would like to work with them again in the future. I feel that the work they are doing is very worthwhile and I would recommend a placement with them to anyone else who is interested in a career in conservation.
Volunteering with Dorset Wildlife Trust.
I started volunteering with Dorset Wildlife Trust in May 2012. I work mainly in the office at the Urban Wildlife Centre but have also done a little practical conservation (pine pulling) and surveys on different sites managed by the trust. The great thing about volunteering with DWT is the variety of things you can do, from helping out at events to the AQA Wildlife Champions.
Before starting, I had not worked for a some time due to having my daughter. My employment background in the past was varied. I trained as a computer programmer when I left school and worked for the M.O.D for a number of years. I then decided to leave there and to work with horses which had always been my passion. This was done with a certain amount of success competing at county and national level, so it amazed me how nervous and under skilled I felt when I was looking round for some voluntary work. I decided to apply for a volunteer administration assistant post at the Urban Wildlife Centre which I am still doing and thoroughly enjoy.
When I started, I was asked if I would like to help to look after the HeathWatch volunteer programme. This was set up after the fire in 2011 on Upton Heath. The work involved learning quite a few new skills and the highlight for me was DWT receiving a nomination for the HeathWatch initiative. The nomination was for the Making Poole Safer awards held at the Civic Centre in Poole.
Andy Fale and myself with the Mayoress of Poole receiving our certificate.
Volunteering for DWT has not only taught me very valuable work placed skills, but has also given me so much confidence and motivation to take the many varied opportunities I am given with them. I also feel proud to help DWT at events and that they have the confidence and trust in me to help represent them. In my experience DWT are very forward thinking when it comes to volunteers and I cannot recommend volunteering enough, as you always feel appreciated and part of a great team who do an amazing and interesting job.
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