OCND Traineeship. How it all started
For the past few weeks I have been digging out thistles and ragwort, wandering through nature reserves, making maps, being treated to a day out at Knepp re-wilding project (including five star picnic!!) and generally having a great time as a volunteer for Kent Wildlife Trust.
Kent Wildlife Trust is dedicated to the wilding, re-naturalisation and on-going management of chalk grassland, woodland, fresh water and coastal habitats in Kent. Old Chalk New Downs is an initiative administered by Kent County Council and funded by the national lottery, which is working in conjunction with KWT to protect what is possibly the most endangered of these habitats. Chalk grassland is one of the richest habitats in Northern Europe - containing up to 40 species of plant per square meter – but it is has been in decline for generations due to various factors, such as changes in farming practices, political agricultural incentives, development, etc. As the UK contains approximately 50% of the world’s chalk downland, and Kent contains 5 % of that 50%, it is vital that we do all we can to protect this botanically rich natural resource.
So where does this Dyslexic ex driving instructor fit in to the grand scheme? Allow me to explain.
I first met Lyndsay at one of her Old Chalk New Downs stands in Touchdown Café at Canterbury Christchurch University, (where I am in my third year of a degree in Environmental Science, having decided that I had taught enough people to drive and needed a career change). She was recruiting volunteers for an incentive administered by Kent County Council and funded by a grant from The National Lottery.
As well as volunteer positions there were a limited number of traineeships available. These would involve three days a week volunteering, but also the opportunity to undertake the training necessary to become a Warden. The training would take place over three months and involve a wide variety of activities and courses, from hedge or butterfly or livestock surveys, to pollinator identification courses, chainsaw operation courses, first aid courses, as well as courses as varied as hedge laying and Dormouse handling.
This sounded as though someone had designed a job with my desires for work in mind; and so, a few emails later I was dressed up like Mr Toad in my finest attire and sat in Glorious July sunshine at Addington Lock in Maidstone being offered the position of Trainee Volunteer by Lyndsay and Alison. A really good day!!