Student Rachel digs deep for wildlife

Friday 8th September 2017

Rachel Todner, student on work placement at Cumbria Wildlife TrustRachel Todner, student on work placement at Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Planting trees, helping to conserve red squirrels and surveying Cumbria’s vanishing hay meadows are all in a day’s work for 21-year-old student Rachel Todner, who has recently started a nine-month work placement with Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

Rachel, who is from Endmoor, is studying Environmental Science at the University of Leeds but this year she’s swapped her books for her boots, and is spending most of her time outdoors at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve near Berrier, and the Trust’s other nature reserves in north Cumbria. She says: “I’ve always wanted to work for Cumbria Wildlife Trust as I’ve been interested in wildlife and the natural world for years. This placement has given me the perfect opportunity to try and help preserve Cumbria’s wildlife and get some real hands-on experience of conservation.”

At the Trust’s flagship upland nature reserve, Eycott Hill, she has learnt about the wide range of moths and grasses that can be found on this varied landscape. Elsewhere she’s worked hard clearing footpaths and seed-spreading on meadows. She’s looking forward to starting work shortly on monitoring red squirrels at Grizedale and Whinlatter forests.

No two days are the same for Rachel and she cheerfully admits she’s got into a few scrapes: “The funniest thing was when I was with a group of colleagues and our vehicle got stuck on Rockcliffe Marsh, near the Solway Firth. We had to be rescued by Giles, the estate owner, and had a proper 4x4 ride experience back over the marsh in his truck!”

Rachel’s work placement with Cumbria Wildlife Trust is one of two projects funded by an Environment Grant from Lakeland Ltd. Sam Rayner, Chairman of the Windermere-based kitchenware outlet, said: “This grant by Lakeland has been funded through our in-store carrier bag levy. It seemed very appropriate to use this money to fund local environmental projects and the Cumbria Wildlife Trust placements were an ideal partnership for us.”

Helen Duxbury, Development Manager at Cumbria Wildlife Trust said: “We are delighted that Lakeland has generously supported the Trust by awarding us an Environment Grant, helping us to fund these two work placements. We have a long-term commitment to supporting the next generation of wildlife conservationists and it’s wonderful to see how Rachel’s hands-on experience with us will help not only her degree but her future job prospects in this field.”