We have a new name! Our trainee program, which was originally called Wild Futures has now been given the shiny new name of Wildlife Skills. The change is due to a name clash with a monkey sanctuary, so to avoid any confusion or upset it was thought best for us to have a new name to distinguish us.
Nothing else in the program has changed but I’ve realised that apart from maybe a paragraph I haven’t explained much about the Wildlife Skills scheme. So here you go:
The scheme is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to provide potential trainees, from any age and background, a years on the job experience in preparation for them to gain a job in the conservation sector.
The South West Wildlife Trusts (Somerset, Devon, Dorset and Wiltshire) will all be hosting four trainees each, for the next three years thanks to this funding. Positions vary slightly between Trusts but three are offered:
- Practical Conservation – (what I’m doing) – learning how to maintain and manage sites, developing and implementing management plans, working with volunteers and the public
- Community and Volunteer Engagement – working with schools, communities and family groups by assisting teaching and project management events, learning how to use different platforms to promote events, recruiting and working with volunteers
- Survey and Monitoring – an 18 month placement, surveying and monitoring various habitats, inputting data and putting together reports
Each of the Trusts currently hosts four trainees, covering the three different positions. Each trainee will have a slightly different experience depending on where they are based but we will all receive some core training. This is to be delivered in the form of four, one week long residentials, one in each county (you can read about our first on Brownsea Island here). Each week has a loose theme and ensure that all of the trainees have some training in areas such as health and safety, communications, conservation policy and interview skills.
We all have a training budget which is to be used for training relevant to our positions. As a Practical Conservation trainee mine will be used for completing brushcutter, chainsaw and pesticide courses. The Community and Volunteer trainees are all going on a Forest Schools course and the Survey and Monitoring trainees will do their Phase 1 habitat training amongst other courses.
As well as specialised training, the whole scheme is one ongoing learning curve. Being immersed in our roles and working alongside staff every day means that we can constantly be gaining new skills, knowledge and experience. To me this seems like the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between volunteering and finding a paid position, and I am extremely excited about what I’m going to learn over the course of the whole year.
I’ve only been on the scheme for two months but from my own experiences already, and having spoken to others on similar programs, I really couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Other counties offer similar opportunities so if any of you are looking for a way into the conservation sector in any of the areas they offer training in then keep your eyes peeled and don’t hesitate to apply!