As some of you may be aware I spent from July 2014 to June 2015 as a Wildlife Skills Trainee with the Somerset Wildlife Trust. But what is that I hear you ask!
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, over three years thanks to this funding. Positions vary slightly between Trusts but three are offered:
- Practical Conservation – (what I did) – 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 hosts four trainees, covering the three different positions. Each trainee will have a slightly different experience depending on where they are based but 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.
Each trainee has a training budget which is to be used for training relevant to our positions. As a Practical Conservation trainee mine was used for completing Brush-cutter, Chainsaw and Pesticide courses as well as Tractor Driving. The Community and Volunteer trainees attend a Forest Schools course and the Survey and Monitoring trainees 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 were constantly gaining new skills, knowledge and experience. To me it was the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between volunteering and finding a paid position, and I gained a huge amount of knowledge and skills over the course of the year.
To see what the current Trainees are up to you can follow these wonderful blogs: