Conservation Apprentice Sian's look back over November & December

Clay sun star

As warned by Kate CD, blogging regularly would become more and more difficult to fit in as Isaac and I got busier at the Trust – so this my attempt to squeeze two packed months into one blog post. Hope you enjoy!

My November began with an exciting lone trip to Edinburgh City Chambers for the Wild Animal Welfare Committee Conference. The WAWC is a young charity, only becoming a registered charity last year in 2015, so one of the main purposes of this conference was for them to hopefully find some focus and direction of where to go next.

WAWC Conference 2017

WAWC Conference 2017

This newness is very different to most of the other things I have been a part of since working here – things which have been running for years – and it was quite refreshing to be there for the beginning of something for once!

The specialisms of the speakers were very wide ranging, mostly covering topics in wildlife research and law, and we also had the first report from WAWC’s major review of UK wild animal welfare issues.

Hayden editing video 2017

Hayden editing video 2017

In the three(ish) months I’ve been here, I’ve done quite a lot of work with the Marine Trainees and have been lucky enough recently to have been a bit involved with their final project here: ‘The Waste Beneath Our Waves’, an exhibition of sculptures created from marine litter found on the beach at South Walney.

A promotional video needed to be made for the project, and it was decided that instead of hiring someone to make this on our behalf, the Trainees would go through video and photography training and make the video themselves. I had this training too and helped sculpt the finished product. I also made my own ‘litter critter’, a sun star, which will be available to view along with the film at the exhibition in a couple of weeks!

Bird watchers Walney

Bird watchers Walney

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I’ve always loved and cared about the natural environment but my knowledge of actual wildlife is not brilliant. Luckily for me this continues to be improved while I’m here at the Trust! Isaac and I both went on a brilliant wading bird ID course run by Mike Douglas. He’s a great teacher whose evident passion is contagious. We did a knowledge test before and after the training to see how our knowledge had improved –I will begrudgingly disclose that in my first test I got ONE correct answer. In the second I got 22! So I’m hopefully all set for the bird surveys we will be taking over when the Marine Trainees sadly leave.

Youth forum 2017

Youth forum 2017

November turned into the month of capital cities – as well as Edinburgh for the WAWC conference I travelled down to London for the Our Bright Future steering group. In brief: Our Bright Future is a £33m HLF scheme, with 31 projects across the U.K, and one of these projects is Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s Green Futures, an environmental apprenticeship scheme which is where our apprenticeships come from!

Together with another YDMT apprentice Jack (his apprenticeship is with Yorkshire Dales National Park), we acted as ambassadors for Green Futures and met people from other OBF projects, as well as helping launch a social media campaign to try and engage young people with the environment.

As usual, we have been on a number of trips to nature reserves for various reasons, this month included our first ever visit to Gosling Sike Farm which acts as the Northern HQ for the Trust.

One of the days we were there coincided with an inner-city school visit, and it was brilliant watching how young children (ages 4 and 5) reacted to the countryside and all its wonders! The entertainment for the day consisted of learning about cows (primarily that they DON’T hibernate as the kids believed), den building and leaf throwing. Nothing more was needed. 

My first three months at the Trust ended with an interesting Christmas party…this involved a (wildlife themed, of course) quiz and a unique (Joe Murphy head of Reserves themed) take on the carol ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’.

Hope everyone had a jolly holiday season and is surviving long dark January! Sian X

About the authors: Sian and Isaac were Apprentice Conservation Officers with the Trust from September 2016 to spring 2018