OCND Conservation Trainee - My Time as a Trainee
My last day as a trainee with the project is this week. I cannot believe how quickly the last 9 months has gone. It has been an amazing experience and I cannot believe that it over. Since finishing my Zoology degree 4 years ago, I have been getting as much experience across several different areas of the conservation sector. This traineeship has by far been the most varied experience, and I have completed task that I did not think I would ever get to do. Here are a few things that I have completed in the 9 months I have been with project.
Surveying has been a big part of my traineeship. I have been heavily involved in the chalk grassland condition assessments and hedgerow surveys; from creating species cheat sheets and a portable Google Docs spreadsheet, to completing the assessment on site and producing maps of the results. I have really enjoyed the condition assessments and learning to identify the chalk grassland plants in more detail, which is always a good skill to have when you live so close to the Downs. Below is a collage of all the sites I visited for surveying, as you can see there is a few!
I have recently taken up the photography monitoring of some of our sites. It consists of taking photos of the sites, where major changes are planned, to show the site before and after work. This has included getting photos from some of our more established sites like Trosley Country Park, and also setting up new photos, such as the tree guards on the A229, to monitor their progress throughout the rest of the project.
Mapping has taken place in all shapes and forms; from Google Maps of all our sites for the website, to QGIS for displaying survey results and creating maps to go in our publications, it really has played a large part of the role. Lately I have taken on our new mapping project, our virtual walking festival StoryMaps! Not only does it include creating maps of the walking routes, it has also required me to venture into video editing to put together our virtual walks videos, taken by our wonderful volunteers. I have enjoyed this part of the project immensely as due to the Covid-19 pandemic all our events were cancelled. The StoryMaps are a great way to connect with an audience, all be it virtual, and to inspire the public to enjoy the wonderful sites we have in our project area.
Here are the StoryMaps we have so far for you to enjoy:
I have acquired some new skills from the project that I have not had the chance to explore much before. I have been running the social media “Species of the Week” posts, as well as managing the “30 Days Wild” campaign back in June. It has been interesting to get into the social media side of the project, it is a skill that I have not had much experience with but have thoroughly enjoyed. I have also been involved in publishing our recent paper on Condition Assessments which has also been an interesting process.
Being the Conservation Trainee for the project has been incredibly rewarding, not only have I learnt loads of new skills and met a wonderful group of people, I have been lucky to secure a job as the Graduate Biodiversity Officer for KCC Ecological Advice Service so that I can continue my career in the environment and conservation sector. Here I hope to learn more about wildlife legislation and policy to be able to contribute to local planning. I hope that one day in the future I will be able to help those wanting to break into the sector like myself. It has been a long journey and I know how hard and competitive the industry is, to be able to give someone the opportunities I have been so lucky to have, which ultimately lead to this break, would be very fulfilling.