Volunteer Stories

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 chainsaw S MANNING

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.

Student Placement with Dorset Wildlife Trust - Susannah Lynn

Susannah Lynn

Susannah Lynn © J Owen

I started volunteering with Dorset Wildlife Trust in July 2018 as my placement in professional practice for university. After completing the second year of my Environmental Social Sciences degree at the University of Kent, volunteering with the trust has been a great way of putting some of my skills into practice before I go into my final year.

 I’m mainly found at the Urban Wildlife Centre – writing, researching and occupying myself with various other desk-based tasks - but have also taken part in practical conservation on different sites managed by the trust. This includes surveys and work parties on Brownsea Island, to beach cleans at Kimmeridge bay. I have also been given the chance to benefit from other opportunities such as a first aid course and a social media training morning at HQ.

 During the summer months I helped run a number of stalls and activities around Dorset. Engaging with different communities is a part of working with DWT that I have thoroughly enjoyed. There have been themes varying from bees and wildlife gardening to the issue of marine plastic. Having these conversations with a variety of people has been encouraging, with many showing a real interest in wildlife and their environment.

 All in all, my placement with DWT has really given me an assortment of activities I enjoy, and the team has let me explore the things I was interested in previously as well as helping me discovering news things I am learning about and loving.  I came into volunteering with only a little knowledge of local wildlife and will leave with a sense of awe at the wildlife Dorset has to offer. I would definitely recommend volunteering with Dorset Wildlife Trust.


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